Gum disease linked to Alzheimer's disease, study shows

Dentists

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A potential like between P. gingivalis, the bacteria associated with gum disease, and Alzheimer's has periodontists on alert, according to a study published in Science Advances and cited by the American Academy of Periodontology.

Researchers analyzed brain tissue, spinal fluid and saliva from patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's, both living and deceased. Results showed evidence of the bacteria. The toxic enzyme secreted by P. gingivalis was found in 96 percent of the 53 brain tissue samples examined.

In an animal study to confirm the findings, researchers discovered that P. gingivalis can travel from the mouth to the brain.

These findings suggest stronger evidence in the link between oral health and overall health, according to Richard Kao, DDS, PhD, president of the AAP.

"Periodontists have long known that a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body, and research has suggested an association between periodontal disease and dementia conditions, such as Alzheimer's," said Dr. Kao. "These recent findings present strong evidence on how periodontal disease can impact the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease and should highlight how crucial it is to manage periodontal disease, especially in older adults or individuals who have increased risk for dimension."

Although a link was found, Dr. Kao and other researchers said more research is needed to understand the etiology of Alzheimer's and how gum disease can alter its progression.

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