Gingivitis plays a decisive role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway.
“We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain,” said Piotr Mydel, MD, PhD, of the Broegelmann Research Laboratory.
The bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, produces a protein that destroys cells in the brain, leading to loss of memory and, ultimately, Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers report.The bacteria does not cause Alzheimer’s alone, but its presence substantially raises the risk for developing the disease and is implicated in the disease’s more rapid progression. Yet the researchers also note that people can take action to slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s.
“Brush your teeth and use floss,” adding that it is important to visit your dentist regularly and clean your teeth properly if you have established gingivitis and have a family history of Alzheimer’s disease.
Previously, researchers have discovered that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain, where the harmful enzymes they excrete can destroy nerve cells. For the first time, Mydel said, researchers have DNA evidence for this process from human brains.