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   Mar 04

Can Gum Disease Cause Alzheimer’s?

When you think of causal factors for Alzheimer’s disease you probably never consider the health of your gums, but new research suggests that is exactly what you should consider.

The new study published in the medical journal Science Advances found that a bacteria that is a cause of periodontal disease (also called gum disease) has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, the key bacteria behind chronic periodontitis, also appears to be a factor in Alzheimer’s disease. The harmful bacteria releases toxic substances known as gingipains, which were also found in the brains of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists found that both in human and mouse brains high gingipain levels were associated with the presence of two types of protein in the brain linked with the Alzheimer’s disease (tau and ubiquitin). While gum disease has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease before, the links were less clear than those presented in the Science Advancesstudy.

Periodontitis is a gum infection that damages the soft tissue in the mouth and can also destroy the bone that supports your teeth. It can cause inflammation around the teeth and can result in pockets between the teeth and the gums. The disorder is, unfortunately, common and increases the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke, and now we know that it may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, so it is a good idea to address any possible oral infection as quickly as possible.


While it is unclear whether treating periodontitis will be sufficient to stop Porphyromonas gingivalis from finding its way into the brain, it is worth the effort, particularly when there are some excellent natural and proven treatment options like some strains of probiotics and the herbal remedies garlic and calendula. There are few, if any, side effects of using these natural options, and many potential benefits, so they are certainly worth considering and using.


Fortunately, some probiotics have shown promise in treating periodontal disease. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology outlines findings on the effects of using lozenges containing the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri over a twelve-week period on thirty otherwise healthy individuals who experienced periodontitis. The scientists ultimately found that people using the probiotic lozenges had a significantly greater reduction in the harmful bacteria linked to periodontitis as well as a significantly greater reduction in the depth of pockets around affected teeth.


Harmful bacteria of all kinds need to be on guard for garlic since the pungent herb has proven efficacy against many strains. Research in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that garlic is one of the most potent antibacterial herbs. Of the 83 herbs tested, compounds in garlic and juniper showed the highest antibacterial action; however, the latter is largely used for bacteria in the urinary tract, while garlic is a broader antibacterial.


It’s easy to assume that the small, yellow and orange flowers of calendula are simply lovely additions to the garden and not the powerful medicine they actually are. Calendula is a powerful antibacterial and immune-stimulating herb that has been found to be helpful in the treatment of gingivitis, which is a milder form of gum disease characterized by inflammation, rather than infection. It manifests as irritation, swelling and inflammation of the gums. A study published in the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontologyfound that there was a significant reduction in plaque, gingivitis and gum bleeding in the group that used the calendula mouthwash. Simply brew calendula flower tea and let it cool. Use as a mouthwash, storing in the fridge for up to 4 days.

While researchers continue to assess the link between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s, it certainly can’t hurt to clean up our dental hygiene with brushing and flossing, along with some probiotics and herbal medicines.

Source: Care2

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