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Gum Disease linked to Alzheimer's Disease, new study claims!

According to a new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Long-term exposure to periodontal bacteria (p. gingivalis) causes inflammation and subsequently degeneration of brain neurons in mice. This phenomenon is similar to the effects of Alzheimer's on human brain.

Alzheimer's is a neuro-degenerative disease which, after its onset, progresses rapidly with age. The disease can start at any age, but is commonly associated with old-age. The progression of the disease worsens many other aspects of the individual’s health. Since the human brain is the primary affected site, as the disease progresses to different areas of the brain, the organs and functions associated with that area start getting affected. The prevalence of Alzheimer's disease is increasing every year. In the next 50 years, it is expected to affect more than 15 million people.

In recently-published studies, the disease is directly linked to certain bacteria that are common in Periodontitis. Researchers monitored the bacteria in the human brains with Alzheimer's disease. Tests were then conducted on mice, which showed that gum infection led to an increased production of amyloid beta, which is a part of the amyloid plaques in neuron in human brains suffering from Alzheimer's.

What is gum disease / Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an oral chronic infection. Also identified as a source of mediators of inflammation into the circulation of blood, this may contribute to worsening several diseases.

the bacteria P. gingivalis causes certain type of infection

How do you know if you have Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is the precursor to periodontitis and it comes with warning signs that you can easily spot. These include red and swollen gums, bleeding gums while brushing. At this point, you can still turn things around with proper oral hygiene and a periodontal checkup by the dentist, which is why it’s so important to keep that regular dental appointment. But once this stage advances, it can get bad enough that one might even start to lose teeth.

Anything else you should do?

All the very usual health advice applies here. Smoking makes gum problems worse and even harder to treat. A good balanced diet and a regular exercise regime reduces low-level chronic inflammations which affects your gums and simultaneously your brain. General physical ill-health surely makes Alzheimer’s worse.

Then why did our ancestors with such poor hygiene didn't suffer from Alzheimer's so much?

It is an obvious question, knowing that dental hygiene of our ancestors was worse, with no proper brushing techniques and a negligible number of dental professionals. One explanation is that life expectancy being low, very few people reached the age when susceptibility of Alzheimer's increases. The average life expectancy in the world in the 1950s was under 55 years.

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