Trouble thinking? Better see the dentist

Poor Dental Hygiene May Hinder Brain Function. A new study indicates that there may be a link between good oral care and aging adults retaining their mental sharpness. Researchers found during the study that adults aged 60 and older with the highest versus the lowest levels of the gum disease-causing pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis were three times more likely to have a hard time remembering a three-word sequence after a period of time. Dr. James M. Noble of Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City and his team also found that adults with the highest levels of this pathogen were twice as likely to fail three-digit reverse subtraction tests. The researcher’s findings are published in this month’s edition of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.

They are based on over 2300 men and women who were tested for periodontitis and completed many thinking skills tests as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III conducted between 1991 and 1994. The researchers  reported that overall, 5.7 percent of the adults had difficulty finishing certain memory tasks and 6.5 percent failed reverse subtraction tests. The subjects with the highest (greater than 119 units) versus the lowest (57 units or lower) pathogen levels were most likely to do poorly in these tests. Previous research has already made a strong connection between poor oral health and heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers said that gum disease could have an adverse affect on brain function in several different ways.

For example, gum disease is known to cause inflammation throughout the body, a contributing risk factor for the loss of mental function. Dr. Robert Stewart, of King’s College in London, United Kingdom, made the comment that this study builds on a “quietly accumulating” body of evidence linking oral and dental health with brain function. news from – Porphyromonas gingivalis belongs to the genus Bacteroides and is a non-motile, gram-negative, rod-shaped, anaerobic pathogenic bacterium. It forms black colonies on blood agar. It is found in the oral cavity, where it is implicated in certain forms of periodontal disease, as well as the upper gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and in the colon. Collagen degradation that is observed in Chronic Periodontal Disease results in part from the collagenase enzymes of this species. In patients harbouring porphyromonas gingivalis one finds high levels of specific antibody in the serum.

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