Brush, Crush Alzheimer's

Brushing your teeth is one of those mindless daily hygiene routines that we do when we wake up and go to sleep. But, if you ever needed motivation to keep your teeth clean, consider new research that shows a connection between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s.

Doctors from NYU College of Dentistry and Weill Cornell Medicine say older adults with more unhealthy than healthy bacteria in their gums are more likely to show evidence of a key Alzheimer’s biomarker in their cerebrospinal fluid.

Periodontal disease affects 3 in 4 people aged 65 and up. Those who have it show signs of chronic inflammation in their mouths, and researchers theorize that inflammation disrupts brain function. The team studied 48 healthy adults. Those with more harmful than helpful bacteria showed signs of the proteins now linked to brain plaques, the signature of Alzheimer’s.

Doctors plan on long-term studies to see if they can figure out just how significant periodontal disease is in the development of Alzheimer’s. They also are testing new ways to “deep clean” the gumline to remove tartar. For now, your best protection are regular checkups, brushing twice a day, using floss once a day, limiting sugar and not smoking. Tell your doctor if your gums bleed when you brush, they are swollen or tender, if you see pus, have persistent bad breath, or your teeth seem loose.

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