We frequently see the effect gum disease has on dental stability at the Shoal Creek Prosthodontic Group. Weakened gum tissue makes it easier for teeth to fall out and implants to fail. But teeth aren’t the only things imperiled by gum disease. New research has shown a link between Alzheimer’s disease and oral bacteria, drawing new attention to how closely tied oral health is to the rest of the body.
Porphyromonas gingivalis, one of the bacteria species that causes gum disease, defends itself against white blood cells by secreting toxic enzymes called gingipains. Although gingipains are common, scientists found them at elevated levels in the brains and spinal fluid of people who displayed symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Further research determined that gingipains trigger the creation of neural plaque, which disrupts brain function and leads to Alzheimer’s.
In the past few months, new research was published on the movement of P. gingivalis in living humans. Scientists found evidence that P. gingivalis can travel from the mouth to the brain and that it likely speeds the development of Alzheimer’s. Although they do not believe the gum disease is the sole cause of neural plaque formation, it does seem to be a significant contributor. People with Alzheimer’s are also less able to care for their gum health, creating a vicious circle. We encourage all our patients to maintain regular dental appointments so they can get deep cleanings and to carefully monitor themselves for signs of gingivitis. Their teeth aren’t all that’s on the line.
Frederick Shaw, DDS, operates the Shoal Creek Prosthodontic Group at 1500 W 38th Street, Suite 34, Austin, Texas, 78731. To schedule an appointment, call 512-451-7491 or visit Frederick Shaw DDS and fill out a contact form.