This Habit Cuts Alzheimer’s Risk By 25 Percent

An easy, everyday habit can cut Alzheimer’s risk by one-quarter.

An easy, everyday habit can cut Alzheimer’s risk by one-quarter.

Keeping gum disease at bay could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 25 percent, research finds.

The reason is that bacteria related to gum disease can travel from the mouth to the brain.

Once in the brain, they can destroy nerve cells, which ultimately leads to memory loss and, sometimes, Alzheimer’s disease.

Brushing and flossing regularly — along with regular hygiene appointments — helps keep the bacteria in check.

Brushing your teeth regularly could reduce the risk of dementia by more than one-quarter, a previous review of the research found.

Indeed, people with fewer than 20 teeth are 26 percent more likely to develop cognitive problems that could lead to Alzheimer’s.

Dr Piotr Mydel, study co-author, said:

“We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain.”

The bacteria causing gingivitis (gum disease) are not the only cause of Alzheimer’s, although they do raise the risk.

The bacteria — called Porphyromonas gingivalis — also increase the speed at which the disease develops.

The conclusions come from a study of 53 people with Alzheimer’s, 96 percent of whom had harmful enzymes.

A further mouse study showed that the bacteria’s movement from mouth to brain can be blocked by an experimental drug.

Dr Mydel said:

“We have managed to develop a drug that blocks the harmful enzymes from the bacteria, postponing the development of Alzheimer’s.

We are planning to test this drug later this year.”

Professor Jan Potempa, study co-author, said:

“Oral hygiene is very important throughout our life, not only for having a beautiful smile but also to decrease the risk of many serious diseases.

People with genetic risk factors that make them susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis or Alzheimer’s disease should be extremely concerned with preventing gum disease.”

The study was published in the journal Science Advances (Dominy et al., 2019).

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Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.

This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.