Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway have found that gingivitis can decisively affect whether someone develops Alzheimer’s disease.
They “discovered DNA-based proof that the bacteria causing gingivitis can move from the mouth to the brain”, a progression which has the effect, through the secretion of an enzyme, of destroying nerve cells, leading to memory loss and finally the disease itself.
The presence of the bacteria is not the cause of Alzheimer's alone, stress the researchers; rather it increases the risk of developing the disease by a significant factor and plays a role in speeding up how quickly the disease progresses.
The researchers arrived at their determination by examining the brains of 53 people with Alzheimer's, discovering the presence of the enzyme in 96 percent of their subjects.
The discovery has led to the development of a possible treatment (though they did note that brushing, flossing and see your dentist are effective ways to slow down the development of Alzheimer’s if you have a family history of the disease).