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Proper dental care can help fight off Alzheimer’s disease, say researchers


Norwegian researchers have discovered gingivitis can lead to Alzheimer's disease. (Akhararat _Wathanasing/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Don’t want to get Alzheimer’s disease? Then brush your teeth.

Researchers from Norway’s University of Bergen’s Department of Clinical Science claim proper dental care can help fend off the neurological disease.

They determined that gingivitis, caused by not enough brushing and flossing, can be an Alzheimer’s agent.

“We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain,” says researcher Piotr Mydel at University of Bergen’s Broegelmanns Research Laboratory.

The enzymes that the bacteria create can destroy nerve cells in the brain, which leads to short-term memory lapses and then Alzehimer’s.

The scientists located the presence of these enzymes in 51 of the 53 patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer’s,” explained Mydel. “We are planning to test this drug later this year.”

The bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis is one of the main causes of gum infection. The bacteria causes chronic gum infection, and can move to the brain where it can damage nerve cells. About 50% of the population have this bacteria and 10% of those having will develop serious gum disease, loose teeth and be at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition to Alzehimer’s, the bacteria is linked to rheumatism, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and esophageal cancer.