Porphyromonas gingivalis is a type of bacterium that is found in the brains of dementia patients. Interestingly, this same strain of bacteria is usually found to cause chronic periodontal disease. Chronic periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that presents in both the soft and hard structures of a patient’s oral cavity. The inflammation occurs as a result of a chronic bacterial infection. There are many risk factors for developing the disease including: genetics, smoking, age, and diet.
Researchers from the University of Central Lancashire discovered this link between the two diseases by studying 10 dementia brain tissue samples and 10 non-dementia brain tissue samples. The results of the study indeed confirmed the presence of porphyromonas gingivalis in the dementia brain tissue samples.
Often times, it is difficult to conceptualize the relationship between oral health and systemic health. As the bacteria found in the oral cavity enters the blood stream, it can easily travel to the brain. When the porphyromonas gingivalis bacteria reach the brain, the brain responds to the foreign body by releasing chemicals that could potentially destroy neurons. The researchers hypothesize that this immune response may ultimately manifest in symptoms of confusion and loss of memory characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
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