We already know many reasons why we should keep our teeth and gums healthy with daily brushing and flossing. But here is a new one, there is now a link between oral bacteria and the risk of dementia—healthy mouth – healthy body – healthy brain. The study found that bacteria in the mouth metastasize to the brain and can cause several brain diseases, including dementia.
It’s the first study of its kind. It was able to prove an association between gum diseases, meaning harmful bacteria under the gum line, with a link to the cerebrospinal fluid in older adults.
The conducted study sampled both swabs of oral bacteria and cerebrospinal fluid from 48 healthy volunteers aged 65 and older. The good and bad oral bacteria were measured for each individual in this study, and it was shown that participants with higher levels of good oral bacteria had a lower prevalence of amyloids. Amyloids are proteins and have previously been linked to cognitive decline when discovered in blood vessel walls of the brain. Therefore, study participants with higher levels of “good” oral bacteria and lower “bad” oral bacteria had a lower risk of developing dementia and other brain diseases.
So, what are good bacteria versus harmful bacteria? We all naturally have millions of bacteria in our mouths at any given moment. Harmful bacteria are the ones that cause gum disease and cavities. They are typically anaerobic, meaning they live underneath the gum line. Alternatively, good bacteria are also necessary. Good bacteria don’t contribute to cavities or gum disease, and they are aerobic, meaning that they live above the gum line.
There are also other studies linking overall health and oral health. Gum disease can put you at a higher risk for many different ailments from increased risk of cancer, heart disease, pneumonia and even negatively affecting pregnancy and birth.
If you have any questions about the effects of gum disease and the risk for dementia, or if you are due for a dental cleaning, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.