Open up and say…Alzheimer's?

Open up and say…Alzheimer’s?

Researchers find potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease

Kelsey Meany

Oral bacteria from poor dental hygiene have been linked to brain tissue degeneration, according to new evidence from an international team of researchers, including one at the UF College of Dentistry.

UF’s Lakshmyya Kesavalu, B.V.Sc., M.Sc., S.C.C., an associate professor in the College of Dentistry department of periodontology, and researchers from the University of Central Lancashire and The Blizzard Institute in the United Kingdom examined samples from the brains of patients with and without dementia. Lipopolysaccharide, a component of Porphyromonas gingivalis, an oral bacterium, was found in four out of 10 Alzheimer’s disease brain samples. It was not found in any samples from the brains of people who did not have Alzheimer’s disease.

“This clearly shows that there is an association between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease, but not causal association,” Kesavalu said.

Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream during chewing, brushing and flossing, and during dental procedures. The bacteria, researchers believe, can enter through the bloodstream to the brain and can potentially lead to degeneration in brain tissue that appears similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, led by senior author StJohn Crean, B.D.S., M.B.B.S., Ph.D., dean of the College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Central Lancashire, is the first study to show a link between the existence of the oral bacterium component lipopolysaccharide and Alzheimer’s disease. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.