Early research published in the January edition of Science Advances, has researchers speculating about a possible correlation between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. Researchers are particularly interested in one of the key bacteria that causes gum disease – Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis). Early studies seemingly show that this may be a key to unlocking the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia.
While studies are in their infancy and we don’t have concrete evidence to support such a claim, here’s what we do know;
- Despite increasing research budgets, there has been little advancement in the understanding of why some are stricken by this devastating disease and how to prevent or impede its advancement
- With so few advancements being made, many are re-thinking the initial hypothesis around the root cause of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s involves inflammation, an excessive immune response that ends up killing neurons instead of protecting them and P. gingivalis is responsible for inflammation in gum tissue
- When the research team gave P. gingivalis gum disease to mice, it led to brain infection, amyloid production, tangles of tau protein and neural damage in the regions and nerves normally affected by Alzheimer’s (source: Science Advances)
It wasn’t until 2016 that research teams started to question the role bacteria plays in those patients with Alzheimer’s. It is still not certain what came first… bacteria leading to dementia or dementia opening up the gateways for bacteria to thrive, but that is ultimately the key question trying to be answered through initial studies.
Initial research results seemingly show that P. gingivalis invades and inflames brain regions affected by Alzheimer’s. In studies with mice, researchers have concluded that gum infections can worsen symptoms in those mice pre-disposed to Alzheimer’s, while also causing Alzheimer’s-like brain inflammation, neural damage and amyloid plaques in seemingly healthy mice.
While it is far too early to conclude anything, our Mississauga periodontal team will be keeping a close eye on future studies and developments. Any inroads to finding the cause behind this terrible disease will be a huge win for so many families. For now, we continue to stress the importance of good oral hygiene habits and dental appointments, while watching for any warning signs of gum disease.
If in doubt, talk visit our periodontal practice in Mississauga and talk with our team of experts in periodontal disease. As experts in periodontal treatments, specializing in dental implants, gum recession, crown lengthening, bone and gum grafting, the Chao pinhole surgical technique and more, we’d love to help you address your dental and smile concerns. Call us at 1-800-341-7471 or connect via email at [email protected]. Until then… keep smiling!