I typically don’t put much credence in the latest health study. In my field, we are flooded with studies every day. For example, the one that was trending today: eating fried chicken on a regular basis is bad for you. Wow, what a shocker. They had to do a study to determine that fried food isn’t good for you?
I know there is a lot of good work being done by hardworking researchers, whose goal is to find the cause of Alzheimer’s so that an effective treatment and/or cure can be developed. One such study this week did pique my interest, because it touched a nerve, pun intended.
The study suggests that there may be a link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. I have gum disease, and even though I’m vigilant about my dental care, I have a couple of concerning pockets that are going to need scaling and root planing (it’s about as fun as it sounds.) My parents had major dental issues, and I feel like lousy teeth is just something I inherited. As I get older, I have become more concerned about my oral health, because gum disease has been linked to diabetes which is prevalent on both sides of my family.
The latest study, which focuses on Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, involves both human and mice testing. Scientists found that P. gingivalis can be found in the brains of those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, not just in their mouths. Applying P. gingivalis to the gums of healthy mice for several weeks led to increased amyloid production and damaged tau protein. The proteins are believed to create the tangles in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s that leads to cognition issues.
Other scientists in the field were less convinced that there is a direct cause between gum disease and Alzheimer’s. As is with all of these studies, there is much more research to be done. But tending to your gum health, especially if you have periodontal disease like I do, is wise whether or not the connection to Alzheimer’s proves to be true.