Study Links Periodontal Disease to Alzheimer’s disease Risk

The findings of a new experimental study concluded that periodontal disease progression can lead to brain damage.

For this study, scientists used mouse oral bacteria to induce gum disease in these rodents. They discovered a connection between periodontal disease and the formation of amyloid plaque, a characteristic feature of Alzheimer's disease. 

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, revealed that periodontal disease-causing bacteria can trigger changes in microglial cells in the brain––instrumental in defending against amyloid plaque. The findings shed light on the mechanism by which oral bacteria can reach the brain and the role of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer's disease. 

The researchers observed that when exposed to oral bacteria, microglial cells became overstimulated; this impaired their ability to digest plaque deposits. 

The results highlight the systemic impact of gum disease on overall health. Gum disease creates lesions between the gums and teeth, allowing bacteria to enter the systemic circulation, and thus, to the vital organs, such as the brain. Bacteria that cause periodontal disease can breach the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and activate microglial cells, leading to neuroinflammation. 

The findings underscore the importance of controlling oral inflammation associated with periodontal disease in the maintenance of cognitive health in adults and the elderly and to prevent neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease.

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