Studies Say Gum Disease May Be Linked To Alzheimer's
TULSA, Oklahoma - A new study showed the cause of Alzheimer’s disease could be linked to gum disease.
Research published in the journal ‘Science Advances’ found the same bacteria that causes chronic periodontitis, also known as gum disease, in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients. The study authors said these results, plus additional testing in mice, provide "solid evidence" of a link between the two diseases and may offer a potential new way to treat Alzheimer's.
Alzheimer's experts not involved in the research caution that it is too early to tell how strong this association is, or whether it could lead to effective treatments.
“It was a small study,” said Toni McGee, with Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter. "If you have dementia, you may not be taking care of your teeth, which means that you have an increased risk for gum disease."
McGee said gum health likely affects brain health but said there is no magic bullet when it comes to the only top 10 cause of death in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.
"Diabetes, gum health, heart health, any of those things that affect your overall health will affect your brain,” said McGee. “There are so many ongoing and future studies. Gum disease is one of them, but it’s just a huge spectrum of the research that’s going on internationally.”
On Monday, the Alzheimer’s Association announced it’s funding an expansion of a study on the correlation between the disease and lower systolic blood pressure.
"They found in the brains of people they aggressively treated it, and kept it below 120, their brains were actually healthier. The white matter was healthier. They didn't have lesions on it that they started to see at the 140,” she said.
The study found a 19% reduction in the risk of MCI, a known risk factor for dementia.
"It slowed the process down for Alzheimer’s. That very first mild cognitive impairment piece, it slowed that down so that so that they didn't move to Alzheimer's so quickly. So that's huge! Because that's something we can work on,” said McGee.
The Alzheimer’s Association announced it will award $800,000 to fund part two of the study, called SPRINT MIND 2.0, re-engaging the original participants and adding two years of follow-up.