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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Poor Oral Health Linked to Frightening Disease- July 15, 2014

People who have poor oral hygiene or gum disease could be at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease compared to those who have healthy teeth.

That's according to the findings of a recent study at the University of Central Lancashire in the UK.  Researchers discovered the presence of a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brains of patients who had dementia when they were alive. The bug is usually associated with chronic periodontal (gum) disease.

For the study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 10 brain samples from patients with dementia were donated for analysis by an organization called Brains for Dementia Research.  They were tested  alongside 10 brain samples from people who did not have dementia.

This bacteria is usually found in oral cavities, and enters the blood stream through a variety of daily activities, such as chewing, eating and brushing teeth.  However, researchers say it's more likely this bacteria will enter the blood stream after invasive dental treatment. Each time the bacteria enter the brain, the researchers note, this could potentially trigger immune system responses, causing the release of excess chemicals that can kill neurons.  The researchers say this activity could lead to symptoms such as confusion and deteriorating memory - typical symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.

The study adds to previous findings that Alzheimer's is linked to poor oral health. Research from New York University in 2010 revealed long-term evidence that linked gum inflammation and Alzheimer's Disease, finding that gum disease could increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction.

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