Gum disease may play a pivotal role in the development of Alzheimer’s, scientist believe, leading to hopes that good dental care or drugs could halt dementia.
Researchers said that they had “solid evidence” that the bacteria behind periodontitis, the formal name for gum disease, produces an enzyme that destroys neurons and leads to memory loss. In a series of experiments an international team tested the brains of 53 people with Alzheimer’s disease and found bacteria enzyme Porhyromonas gingivalis in 96% of them.
The researchers believe the bacteria may be responsible for the telltale tangles of tau proteins seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, which contribute to the death of brain cells.
The study was published in the journal Science Advances.