Researchers have found a bacterium that is known to cause gum disease in the brains of patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.* This reinforces a well known oral health-systemic health connection, and also that maintaining oral hygiene may play a direct role in preventing serious diseases.
Although the exact cause and effect mechanism is unknown, what was shown in the study is that this bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, was present only in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and was not present in the brains of those who did not have the disease.
“When you get down to it, the foundation of my practice is addressing bacterial infections of the mouth. Where we find bacteria, we find inflammation, and structural damage to the teeth. This particular study is interesting, because this specific bacteria found its way into the brain, probably through the bloodstream, only in the Alzheimer’s patients. It is uniquely direct evidence that the consequences of gum disease expand well beyond the gums and teeth. It makes a statement that ongoing oral hygiene, in the office of a periodontist, and in the home of patients, is very important.”
* This study was published in The Journal of Alzheimers Disease