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Good teeth, good memory

A beautiful smile is a wonderful thing. If you are the object of the smile you will feel all warm inside at the bestowal of radiant teeth shining in your direction. As the owner of a winning smile you gain many benefits; doors open for people with nice smiles, people are obliging, you stand out in dark bars making you a kind of lighthouse for pick-ups, and you engender the sort of trust from colleagues that more craggy-toothed folk will never enjoy. Yes, the shining teeth that yield a glowing smile provide all sorts of social benefits and the added bonus is that they provide health benefits too. A healthy mouth and healthy teeth has been linked to a range of other positive health outcomes and now a new study has even suggested that keeping our teeth and gums healthy can protect against Alzheimer’s Disease.

This was established by researchers who examined brain tissue donated by patients with dementia and compared it to brain tissue from patients without dementia. Their analysis showed that the brains of patients with dementia showed the presence of products from the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis. This is the first time that P. gingivalis has been documented in the brains of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

This bacteria is frequently associated with chronic gum disease and the bacteria enter the blood stream from activities like eating, tooth brushing, and invasive dental treatment.

The theory of these researchers is that every time the bacteria reach the brain they trigger an immune response by already sensitised brain cells causing them to release chemicals that kill neurons eventually leading to confusion, worsening memory, and eventually dementia. Whether unhealthy teeth and gums can cause Alzheimer’s in an otherwise healthy person remains to be seen but there certainly seems to be a link of some sort at play.

At the least this is another motivation to brush and floss, provided you can remember to do it of course.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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