Is there a link between dementia and bad dental health? According to a recent study from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, some oral bacteria can cause neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Here is what the researchers found.
Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s
An inflammatory reaction in the brain can be brought on by a certain oral bacterium linked to gum disease, according to Tufts University researchers. According to Jake Jinkun Chen, professor of periodontology and director of the Division of Oral Biology at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine,
“In this study, our lab is the first to find that Fusobacterium nucleatum can generate systemic inflammation, even infiltrate nervous system tissues, and exacerbate the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Our research demonstrates that F. nucleatum can impair mice’s memory and cognition via specific signal pathways. Both researchers and doctors should take note of this warning flag. One day, testing for bacterial load and the severity of symptoms may be used to monitor the effects of F. nucleatum and guide treatment to delay the course of Alzheimer’s disease and periodontal disease.”
Bacteria As a Disease Biomarker
The Tufts study is only the most recent of several studies that have connected pathogenic bacteria with amyloid beta, a crucial biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the study’s lead author, associate professor of periodontology and implant dentistry at NYU College of Dentistry Angela Kamer, DDS, PhD, “this is the first study to our knowledge showing an association between the imbalanced bacterial community found under the gumline and a CSF biomarker of Alzheimer’s disease in cognitively normal older adults.”
“Both unhealthy, inflammatory bacteria and beneficial, protective microorganisms reside in the mouth. We discovered that the presence of brain amyloid was linked to higher levels of dangerous and lower levels of helpful bacteria.”
How To Prevent Bad Bacteria
According to Andrew J. Corsaro, DMD, MS, clinical assistant professor, College of Dentistry, University of Florida, “you must clean all surfaces of the teeth and gums in order to eliminate biofilms and plaque and avoid tartar formation.”
“This entails using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-containing toothpaste to clean your teeth twice daily for two minutes each time. Additionally, you must use dental floss to clean the gaps in between your teeth once a day.”
Eat Healthy Foods
Experts caution that nutrition can affect oral bacteria. Dr. Corsaro advises limiting sugar consumption along with other carb-containing meals and beverages such sodas, fruit juices, sweetened coffee and tea, and confectionery. “Of course, you don’t have to fully abstain from either, but cutting back on both can be quite advantageous. Avoid eating sticky and hard foods since they can damage dental work and shatter teeth.”
COVID-19 and Oral Health
According to studies, oral bacteria can also affect how quickly patients recover from COVID-19; those who had gum disease were more likely to experience problems such as hospitalization. According to the study’s findings, “excellent dental health is important in the prevention and management of COVID-19 problems,” says Belinda Nicolau.
A full professor in the faculty of dentistry at McGill University and a contributing author. The relationship between periodontitis and the course of the illness is quite significant.