Need a new reason to brush your teeth at least twice a day? Today the Daily Mail reported that brushing your teeth can actually help keep Alzheimer’s at bay. British studies have linked gum disease to a quicker decline into dementia for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The news comes on the heels of an editorial written by 31 international Alzheimer’s researchers who urge medical professionals to reevaluate the treatment of the disease, which they now believe is caused by certain viruses and bacteria.
Until recently, the idea that Alzheimers could be caused by microbes was largely dismissed in favor of the current popular theory that natural plaque build-up in the and mis-folded tau protiens in the brain affects the nuerons’ ability to communicate. The microbial theory suggests that these microbes invade our red blood cells where they remain dormant, to later be activated by illness or stress. The British study linking Alzheimer’s to gum disease does seem to support that bacteria could play a large role in brain degeneration. Patients with gum disease experienced mental decay at a rate 6 times faster than patients with healthy mouths.
“We are saying there is incontrovertible evidence that Alzheimer’s Disease has a dormant microbial component, and that this can be woken up by iron dysregulation. Removing this iron will slow down or prevent cognitive degeneration – we can’t keep ignoring all of the evidence.” said editioral contributor Professor Douglas Kell.
Some of the evidence Professor Kell is referring to takes the form of Alzheimer’s seemingly being able to be spread patient to patient via certain surgical procedures. The hope is that antimicrobial treatments would halt the degenerative brain disease. Contributors to the editorial believe research should be focused first on some of the most common microbes in humans: herpes simplex virus type 1 ( which commonly causes cold sores), the chlamydia bacteria, and the spiral-shaped bacteria spirochaetes.
The microbial theroy is held by a minority of researchers;many in the medical profession find the connections between Alzheimer’s unfounded and continue to search for other, less controversial answers. However, proponents of the microbial theory point out that herpes has been known to attack the nervous system and bacterial infections cause inflammation which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.
“We write to express our concern that one particular aspect of the disease has been neglected, even though treatment based on it might slow or arrest Alzheimer’s disease progression,” the editorial from the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reads. “We propose that further research on the role of infectious agents in Alzheimer’s disease causation, including prospective trials of antimicrobial therapy, is now justified.”