If your gums bleed a bit while brushing your teeth this morning, you may want to talk to your dentist immediately rather than ignoring it, as a formidable new study has found a possible link between gum disease and the dementia of Alzheimer's disease.
Researchers found Porphyromonas gingivalis, the keystone agent in chronic periodontitis, in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. Dr. Steve Dominy, study author and associate professor at the University of California, told Newsweek that this may be the "leading cause of Alzheimer's disease."
The study, published today in Science Magazine, was sponsored by biotech startup Cortexyme Inc. of South San Francisco, co-founded by Dominy, who serves as Chief Scientific Officer. Researchers at the Center for Brain Research at the University of Auckland compared brain tissue in patients with and without Alzheimer's disease. They found that 96 percent of the 53 patients with the disease had the potentially neurotoxic enzyme arginine gingipain from the bacteria in their neurons. As many as 91
The bad news is that experts estimate that half of adults have periodontal disease, Newsweek noted. About ten percent of us experience a severe version of the disease that undermines the gums and bones that hold our teeth in place, the scientists said. If the results are correct, this could help explain why 5.7 million Americans now live with Alzheimer's.
The good news is that gingipain inhibitors may be useful for the treatment of P. gingivalis brain lesions and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease
However, not all experts believe the compound is a blast.
"I am full of the idea that this microbe could help. I am much less convinced that [it] causes Alzheimer's disease, "said neurobiologist Robert Moir of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) of Harvard University in Boston, to Science.
In any case, it does not hurt anything more flossing .