Brushing your teeth regularly could slash your risk of Alzheimer’s, says Dr Mosley – The Mirror

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Dr Michael Mosley explained the link between poor oral hygiene and Alzheimer’s disease on his Just One Thing podcast.
Good oral hygiene helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease – but did you know it can also keep neurodegenerative diseases at bay?
Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly reduces the amount of bacteria and plaque around your teeth and gums.
Burnt-out Brits often forget to clean their teeth due to tiredness, as around 25 percent of all adults don't brush their teeth twice a day, while one in three men fail to pick up their toothbrushes regularly.
But Dr Michael Mosley has warned that poor oral hygiene could increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Speaking on his Just One Thing podcast, the doctor said: “[A] study showed that people who have severe periodontal disease – that's inflamed gums – are also at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease.”
Gum disease, an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place, is often linked to poor brushing and flossing.
Meanwhile, Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behaviour. Symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks, writes the Alzheimer's Association.
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One theory of why a condition that targets your mouth could have implications for your brain comes down to your bloodstream.
Dr Mosley explained: “When bacteria from your mouth leak into your blood, this activates an immune response.
“In the short term, that can be helpful, but if it continues, it can lead to chronic inflammation.”
Dr Sim K. Singhrao, from the University of Central Lancashire School of Dentistry, also discussed the risks of poor oral hygiene on the podcast.
Dr Singhrao said: “We examined Alzheimer's disease brains and non-Alzheimer's disease brains in the laboratory, looking for signatures of DNA from these bacteria from the gum, as well as any proteins that might be associated with them.
“And we found they were exclusively within the Alzheimer's disease brains and not in the non-Alzheimer's control brains.”
Dr Mosley highlighted how the association between mouth and dementia is “disturbing” and a “big step”.
Previous research on mice clearly shows that bacteria behind gum disease can indeed enter the brain.
These studies make oral hygiene front and centre, with practices like brushing twice a day being non-negotiable.
“Clearly, the message is that oral health is unbelievably important for your body and your brain,” Dr Mosley said.
Dr Singhrao offered her “top tips” for keeping your teeth healthy and clean.
The expert said: “Clean your mouth twice a day at least for two minutes each time – first thing in the morning and last thing at night – and also use fluoride toothpaste.”
She added that you should only spit but don’t rinse after cleaning your teeth with toothpaste.
And while you might want to focus all your attention on your teeth, don’t forget about the tongue.
Dr Mosley added that doing so will not only help keep your teeth healthy, but also offer “health benefits beyond” the mouth.
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