It’s old news that brushing your teeth may lower the risk of heart disease.
But there’s a new and equally urgent reason to take care of your teeth and gums: researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway say that brushing and flossing twice a day may postpone Alzheimer’s.
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“We discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain,” says study co-author Piotr Mydel, a researcher from the Department of Clinical Science at the university, in a release.
The gingivitis bacteria makes a protein that annihilates nerve cells in the brain – which leads to memory loss and ultimately, Alzheimer’s.
It has been discovered before that the bacteria can move from to the mouth to the brain, but the researchers say that they are the first to have DNA evidence of this happening. Mydel and his colleagues examined 53 people with Alzheimer’s for the study.
The bacteria isn’t the only thing that causes Alzheimer’s, Mydel points out. However, its presence increases the risk of developing the disease and is responsible for its accelerated progression.
Therefore, Mydel says, “Brush your teeth and use floss.” He also recommends people get their teeth cleaned regularly, and for those with a history of gingivitis and/or Alzheimer’s in their family to be extra-vigilant in their oral care.
The research team said has developed a drug that would block the enzymes from the bacteria, which would postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s. They plan on testing it later this year.
The study is published in the journal Scientific Advances.
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