Can avoiding Alzheimer’s disease be as simple as brushing your teeth and flossing every day?


The NYU Dental College thinks they’ve found the deadly link between mouth and mind:

A new one-year study by New York University College of Dentistry researchers led by Dr. Angela R. Kamer, an Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry, has established a link between the body’s immune response to a common mouth bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Dr. Kamer recently presented her findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease 2008. Dr. Kamer’s study examined 18 patients with probable AD and a control group of 16 who did not have the disease.

“Twice as many subjects with probable AD tested positive for antibodies in their plasma against a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the mouth, particularly if patients have periodontal infection,” said Dr. Kamer. “This pilot study supports a growing body of evidence that associates notable immune changes with a means of predicting and classifying Alzheimer’s disease.”

If we can avoid Alzheimer’s by merely taking care of our teeth and gums — then we will truly have taken a preventative medicine step with verifiable benefits for our long-term future.

9 Comments

  1. The Egyptian Kings died early deaths, Gordon, because they did not care for their teeth. They were rich and able to eat “stone ground” bread every day and since there were actually tiny bits of stone in the meal, they sanded away their enamel and decay and rot set in to defeat them! The peasants had much healthier teeth.

  2. Hmm. This is either very interesting and potentially useful or absolutely meaningless, depending on how they chose their subjects. There are any number of factors that could impact both Alzheimer’s status and dental hygiene. I would expect people who eat healthily, exercise regularly and have adequate medical care to show lower incidence of both Alzheimer’s and periodontal disease. A pity the press release doesn’t mention how/if they accounted for confounding variables. Still, I think I’m going to go brush my teeth…

  3. Wow, thanks. It’s really interesting that periodontal disease could be a link between such different conditions- I wouldn’t have thought that gestational diabetes and Alzheimer’s would have much in common.

  4. liminal —
    Right! I was thinking about this yesterday, and our mouths are our most vulnerable hole. We bring the world in through our lips. We get cuts and bacteria and viruses and that opening is close to our brains, so the pathogen route — through infected teeth and gums — provides a straight line into the being of us.