Alzheimer’s is one of the leading killers in the US – 6th to be exact. It is more or less a death sentence, 8 years in waiting. And to make it worse, it usually attacks without warning.
The nasty part about Alzheimer’s disease is that when it decides to attack, there is nothing that you can do about it. No way to prevent it. And no way to cure it.
The nasty symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Therefore, when you start noticing that you can’t remember simple things like a birthday or an appointment. Or you find planning or making decisions harder. You know that the darkness is coming and things are only going to get worse.
Still Alice got rave reviews for perfectly portraying this condition – even from people affected by it. Here is a trailer of the movie. You can find the book here.
There’s simply little you can do to keep yourself from slipping into a world where you can’t hold a simple conversation, can’t keep track of time or place, or can’t even do simple tasks such as taking your meds. Even losing your personality becomes almost inevitable.
The best science and medicine has offered so far is the hope that we can manage the symptoms of the disease. Nothing more.
But through all this doom and gloom, a study has shone some light. It turns out that there is something that you can do to help keep the disease at bay.
The study was conducted by a couple of scientists from the University of Central Lancashire.
These scientists were wondering the same thing that all who have been affected by the disease have at one time or the other wondered. Is there something we can learn to get us out of this mess.
They set out to do their study by analyzing 20 brains. Some of the brains were for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The other half was of patients without it.
The discovery that they made was interesting. In the course of their study, they were able to discover evidence of traces of bacteria in some of the brains. And these weren’t just any run-of-the-mill bacteria. No. The bacteria that was found in these brains are the ones that are notorious for causing gum infections – Porphyromonas gingivalis.
And guess which brains contained the bacteria? If you guessed the ones of the patients with Alzheimer’s disease, you are right.
The scientists were excited. This was good news! Why? Because they not only had found a link between dental hygiene and Alzheimer’s but also had managed to be among the first, if not the first, to identify a particular strain of bacteria that was responsible for the trouble. They were also happy because finally, their study could hold the key to completely keeping Alzheimer’s at bay – a real chance at preventing and curing Alzheimer’s disease.
The question is, exactly how?
Alzheimer’s disease and dental hygiene
After the scientists came out with their studies, they started coming up with possible explanations for the relationship. One that they settled on was that the bacteria somehow found itself to the brain.
But how? Well, people eat. They also brush their teeth. And they do lots of activities that can end up causing the bacteria to move to their stomach.
It is at the stomach that the bacteria then get absorbed into a person’s blood stream. The blood stream then carries the bacteria to the brain region.
And so what happens in the brain?
In the brain, the person’s immune system doesn’t like what it sees. Bacteria? No way is it going to be allowed into the brain. And so, the immune system starts a fight. The main aim of the fight being to protect the brain.
But unfortunately, this war, although it is eventually won by the immune system, has casualties. Several brain cells die in the course of the fighting. And it is this death that usually causes the memory loss, the loss of cognitive function and other brain-related symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
What’s the good news about this Alzheimer’s story?
Prevention of Alzheimer’s disease
Since there is a possibility that the bacteria causing Alzheimer’s usually originates from the mouth, it is possible to prevent it. How? Simply kill it before it has time to get to the brain. Or better still, prevent it from even having the chance to build a home in your cavities.
What this means is that if these scientists are spot on as to their theories about what exactly happens between having a dirty mouth and the onset of Alzheimer’s, taking care of your dental health may be enough to help you beat this nasty disease.
Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease
The fact that these scientists identified a specific type of bacteria means that there is hope for detecting the disease early on. With time, a blood test may be all you will need to measure the risks of getting affected by the disease. This will remove the surprise advantage that the disease has always enjoyed. Anything to cripple the disease is good for us all.
Of course, there is need for more studies. The sample size that was used was also smaller, so that means to really be sure about the effects of dental health on dementia and Alzeimer’s, more scientists have to go back to the lab.
But as we wait for these confirmations. And as we hold our breaths on the outcome of the experiments to be, it is a good idea to ensure that we take care of our dental health. Because it’s not just our smiles and our odds of getting Alzheimer’s that it impacts. There is also a host of other serious medical conditions that it helps us to avoid.
Take not these findings lightly. Alzheimer’s is uber serious. If there is even the littliest of chances that a few minutes cleaning your pearly whites can help save you from the pain and frustrations of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, that is a chance that you should fully exploit.