Dental Disease Is Linked To Dementia

 WebMD states, "Poor dental health and gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer's disease and dementia," a new study from the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry suggests. 

The bacteria, known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, was studied in the mouths and brains of human patients, but it is known to be highly prevalent in the mouths of dogs as well and possibly even more so in cats - it was found to be a highly significant indicator of the grade of periodontal disease in 93% of cats. Toxic proteases from the Porphyromonas gingivalis, called gingipains, have also been identified in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Gingipains were neurotoxic in vivo and in vitro, exerting detrimental effects on tau, a protein needed for normal neuronal function. 

In human studies, researchers looked that donated brain samples of 10 people with, and 10 people without, dementia and found Porphyromonas gingivalis in the brain samples in 40% of those with dementia. Further, in a study done by the University of Oregon, 14 out of 16 Alzheimers Disease samples had spirochetes that are normally found in the mouths of people that have periodontal disease. (See "Dental Disease Leading to Neuropsychiatric Disorders ... When tooth talks to brain!!!" PDF). Oral spirochetes are also common in dogs and cats.

The theory is that the migration of these bacteria from the mouth to the brain may play a role in changes in the brain, thus contributing to symptoms including confusion and failing memory. Dr. Sim Singhrao, PhD and senior research fellow states, "We are working on the theory that when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria and/or debris from our gums, subsequent immune responses may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss." 

In order to block the neurotoxicity of these bacteria, researchers are looking into Gingipain inhibiting substances to reduce the bacterial load of any established P. gingivalis brain infection - thus reducing neuroinflammation and rescuing neurons from the hippocampus. Data suggests that gingipain inhibitors could be valuable for treating P.gingivalis brain colonization and neurodegenerative diseases. 

A few natural gingipain inhibiting substances include:

- Green Tea derived polyphenols (EEGC)

- Cranberry derived polyphenols

- Plant fruits and seeds (rich in proteinaceous protease inhibitors) (particularly swordbean)

- K-casein in cow milk

- Zinc

- Other bacteria (such as those found in cultures and ferments)