Is there a link between Alzheimer's and oral health?
The debate about potential links between Alzheimer’s disease and dental infection and treatment has been grabbing headlines recently. Now, two researchers have examined an extensive collection of research and determined a potential correlation between the disease and oral bacteria.
After the recent publication of a study in the journal Nature, provocative news stories reporting links between Alzheimer’s and dental treatment began gracing the news. “The study does provide some strong evidence that precursors for beta amyloid which is found in Alzheimer's patients' brains could be transmitted via certain medical procedures,” reported the Washington Post.
The Independent’s coverage of the research was similar, stating “The “seeds” of Alzheimer’s disease may be transmitted from one person to another during certain medical procedures, scientists have found.”
Despite the sensational stories, the American Association of Endodontists issued a press release saying there is no evidence that Alzheimer’s disease can be spread through any dental procedures, or directly from one person to another.
“There is no evidence that root canal treatment poses a risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said AAE President Dr. Terryl A. Propper, a private practicing endodontist in Nashville, Tenn. "There are procedures in place to minimize infection risk from endodontic instruments such as files and reamers. Many endodontists employ single-use instruments and, if not, instruments are thoroughly sterilized prior to each use."
The study makes no mention of dental procedures as a risk factor, and the study author, Professor John Collinge, said; "Our current data has no bearing on dental surgery and certainly does not argue that dentistry poses a risk of Alzheimer's disease."
"There is nothing definitive in this study," said Dr. Propper. "Questions remain and the study authors acknowledge that more research is needed."
However, a recent review of more than 200 articles examining the suggested link between infections of the mouth and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) came to the conclusion that oral infection may be to blame.
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