Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway have discovered a clear connection between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
“We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain,” says researcher Piotr Mydel of the University of Bergen.
The bacteria produce a protein that destroys nerve cells in the brain, which in turn leads to loss of memory and ultimately, Alzheimer’s. Mydel points out that the bacteria do not cause Alzheimer’s alone, but the presence of these bacteria raises the risk for developing the disease substantially. However, the good news is that this study shows that there are some things you can do yourself to slow down Alzheimer’s.
“Brush your teeth and use floss,” says Mydel and adds that it is important, especially if you have established gingivitis and have Alzheimer’s in your family, to go to your dentist regularly and clean your teeth properly.
Researchers have previously discovered that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain where the harmful enzymes they excrete can destroy the nerve cells in the brain. Now, for the first time, Mydel has DNA evidence for this process from human brains. Mydel and his colleagues examined 53 persons with Alzheimer’s and discovered the enzyme in 96% of cases.
“We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer’s. We are planning to test this drug later this year”, says Mydel.