A new study has potentially linked gum disease with the development of this form of dementia.
When consumers purchase dental insurance, it’s usually to help to prevent cavities or cover expensive oral procedures. That said, a new study has potentially connected the Alzheimer’s disease risk with a bacteria associated with gum disease.
The study was published in the Science Advances journal, presenting a new understanding of dementia.
Thought it’s too early for consumers to start rushing to buy dental insurance to help preserve their future cognitive function, this study has taken a new angle toward understanding mental health. The researchers found that a kind of bacteria known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, or P. gingivalis, may have something to do with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
P. gingivalis is a type of bacteria associated with periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. It’s a kind of infection that enters into the tissues supporting the teeth in the mouth, according to the American Dental Association (A.D.A.). That said, in the research, scientists also found the bacteria within the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients.
This connection could mean dental insurance may provide a broader form of care and coverage in the future.
The researchers in this study were from a private clinical-stage pharmaceutical company called Cortexyme, Inc. They state that this discovery may be the first step toward the development of a drug that will stop that form of bacteria in the hope of benefiting those at risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers also found that in mouse experiments, oral P. gingivalis infections also triggered amyloid beta production. Those are the proteins that cluster together and are a telltale sign of Alzheimer’s disease. They also discovered that the gingipains – the toxins P. gingivalis releases – were also found in Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains. This suggests that the disease may actually be a form of brain infection.
Will buying dental insurance save you from dementia later in life? It’s too early to tell. It will help you to take care of your teeth through prevention and regular cleanings. That said, one day, it may play a role in identifying the potential presence of P. gingivalis bacteria in the system which could signal its presence elsewhere. Just as gastrointestinal bacteria are starting to become linked with mental health, so may dental care one day be connected with identifying initial risk factors.