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Guard your mouth to keep away calamity

Guard your mouth to keep away calamity
Highlights

A growing body of research indicates that Alzheimers disease might be linked to Porphyromonas gingivalis, a strain of bacteria that is also known for causing chronic gum disease It is still not quite clear when and how the bacteria migrate from the gums to the brain and start doing damage, since far more people have gum disease than Alzheimers

A growing body of research indicates that Alzheimer's disease might be linked to 'Porphyromonas gingivalis', a strain of bacteria that is also known for causing chronic gum disease. It is still not quite clear when and how the bacteria migrate from the gums to the brain and start doing damage, since far more people have gum disease than Alzheimer's.

That should come as bad news to the mankind. More so to us the Indians whose oral hygiene remains questionable. Tambaku only adds to the hazard further. Gum disease usually affects around one third of all people. Till we find the vaccine for the gum disease, the danger continues to lurk around.

Alzheimer's is one of the biggest mysteries in medicine. As populations have aged, dementia has skyrocketed to become the fifth biggest cause of death worldwide. The disease often involves the accumulation of proteins called amyloid and tau in the brain, and the leading hypothesis has been that the disease arises from defective control of these two proteins.

Recent research has showed, however, that people can have amyloid plaques without having dementia. Multiple research teams have been investigating P. gingivalis and have so far found that it invades and inflames brain regions affected by Alzheimer's: that gum infections can worsen symptoms in mice genetically engineered to have Alzheimer's; and that it can cause Alzheimer's-like brain inflammation, neural damage, and amyloid plaques in healthy mice.

The new evidence that has surfaced now could potentially transform current thinking about how the disease should be tackled. Let us remember to be cautious about the gum disease in the first place. If healthy people want to stay on the safe side and potentially reduce their risk, the main conclusion we still have is: brush and floss.

The problem in general with us is that we don't visit the dentist often. In fact, these visits must be periodical. Yet, we neglect and seek temporary fixtures to dental and gum problems. In fact, a visit to the dentist becomes necessary only when there is a root canal problem. Or at the best, in case of children, when there is a need to go for braces.

Secondly, we are not even taught how to properly brush our teeth. Either it is too casual or too vigorous. The latter can get oral bacteria into the bloodstream. So, take it easy. But, if plaque is allowed to build up, it can become mineralised, turning into hard tartar, which encourages the growth of more plaque towards the tooth roots. All the general health advices too apply here.

Smoking makes gum disease worse and harder to treat. Also flossing can help remove plaque, food build-up between the teeth, reduce the risk of gingivitis, gum disease and reduce the risk of tooth decay. Governments that talk of medicare and medical schemes don't usually bother about the potential risks of gum diseases. At least in the light of the latest findings, if they wake up and start a campaign, it would be good.

Meanwhile, let us remember that a good diet and exercise regime reduces low-level chronic inflammation, which is bad for gums and also the brain. Let us keep that in mind and....mouth!

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