Dementia has been a mysterious condition linked to memory loss, but recent research indicates that it may be caused by poor dental hygiene and gum disease. A study by the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry points to gum disease bacteria infiltrating the brain as a possible cause to both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Researchers observed ten people with dementia and compared them with a control group of ten people without dementia. They discovered that four of the subjects with dementia had bacteria known as Porphyromonas gingivalis in their brains. Senior researcher Sim Singhrao, PhD, speculates that when debris from gums affects the brain, nerve cells can die and lead to Alzheimer’s disease. The groundbreaking study suggests that dentists should become more involved with predicting symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The study is not conclusive but other studies have shown that memory loss may be due to oral infections. Dental experts have had mixed reactions about the study, but many agree that more research is necessary and that dental records will become more important in the future when studying a person’s health and oral hygiene.
Dementia is not considered a disease. It’s a combination of symptoms reflected by deterioration of thinking ability, memory and reason. It can prevent people from leading a normal lifestyle by affecting behavior, personality and mood. In some cases, such as with substance abuse, dementia can be treated or cured, but in most cases it cannot be cured. Alzheimer’s disease is considered the most common cause of dementia, but there are also about fifty other known causes.
Some other known disorders that lead to dementia include nerve cell degeneration in the brain, strokes, drug abuse, nutritional deficiencies, and fluid build-up in the brain, infections, brain tumors and damage to the kidney, liver or lungs.