Gum Disease May Increase the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers at Tuft University reported a link between gum disease, also known as periodontitis and periodontal disease, to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Periodontitis is a bacterial infection within the soft tissue of the mouth, and “about 47.2% of U.S. adults over 30 and 70% over 65 have gum disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The study, which was done with mice, discovered the correlation, but researchers hope the findings can be used to someday help reduce cases of Alzheimer’s disease. The authors cite Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum), a bacterium that causes gum disease and is already linked to kidney disease, diabetes and coronary problems to be the problem.
The lead author, Dr. Jake Jinkun Chen, professor of periodontology and director of the Division of Oral Biology at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine explains the purpose of the study is to identify and characterize the association of induced periodontal disease with Alzheimer’s disease. He says as F. nucleatum generates “inflammation both locally and systemically, it affects the Alzheimer’s disease phenotype, as Alzheimer’s itself is an inflammatory disease.” Additionally, since the bacteria migrate and penetrate the brain, it can worsen the symptoms and signs of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers plan further studies in humans and say although there is not a proven link yet; good oral health benefits our overall health. They also say to decrease our risk for Alzheimer’s, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise.
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