What’s in your mouth can infect your brain

What’s in your mouth can infect your brain

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Growing scientific evidence has found our mouths, or what’s in our mouths, can infect our brains. Dentist and partner of Oak Grove Family Dentistry in Lamar County, Dr. Alan Lucas, said a particular bacteria is being investigated in the dental world and neurology.

“They have found this bacteria to be found in causing other health issues,” Lucas said.

Lucas is talking about the bacteria P. Gingivalis. In the dental world Lucas said this bacteria is responsible for periodontal disease. He said if the bacteria grows in the gums it causes chronic inflammation.

“...Cause bone loss and it will degenerate the periodontal ligament," Lucas said. “These are the supporting structures that hold the tooth in the mouth. So, if you have loose teeth you need to see your dentist to have this professionally cleaned.”

Lucas said 46% of the U.S. population has some form of periodontitis, and 9% has a severe case of this damaging P. Gingivalis under the gums.

“It’s very prevalent in our everyday environment,” Lucas said.

While the bacteria and its effects have been widely known in the dental world, its findings in the realm of neurology is brand new, according to Hattiesburg Clinic neurologist Dr. Ronald Schwartz.

“This has only really come to light within the last few months,” Lucas said.

Schwartz said researchers in different places found the bacteria P. Gingivalis DNA embedded in spinal fluid and the amyloid plaque that’s found on the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients.

“So, the story started to build that this maybe one of these risk factors that we have not been paying enough attention to,” Schwartz said.

He said this bacteria is more toxic in some people than others.

Schwartz said researchers believe over time the bacteria puts out toxic proteins which affect the brain’s neurons, triggering the amyloid plaque, a signature sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, Schwartz said the clinic is offering the Gain Alzheimer’s Trial to see if a drug is safe and can stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the damage caused by this bacteria in the brain.

“We are just looking for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, stable on their medications,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said finding this association between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s broadens this idea that everyone is affected, and maybe this could be the start of identifying who is at risk earlier and slowing down or stopping Alzheimer’s disease.

Schwartz said people may also be eligible for this trial if they are 55 to 80 years old. If you want to be a part of the Gain Alzheimer’s Trial or want to know more Schwartz said contact the Memory Center at 601-579-5016.

You can also email Kayleigh Russell: kayleigh.russell@hattiesburgclinic.com .

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