According to research by University College London, dental patients may be at risk of Alzheimer’s due to contaminated dental instruments. Professor John Collinge, a neurologist at the College, says that a new study has shown that a protein which causes the degenerative brain disease could be transmitted by badly cleaned dental tools used during surgery. The protein builds up to block signals between brain cells, causing deterioration in the brain, a condition known as Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Collinge said that ‘one would have to consider whether certain types of dental treatment are relevant’ in order to try and avert the risks associated with dental care, as it is not yet known if the protein can be killed off using conventional methods of sterilisation. According to the research carried out, more studies need to be done before any conclusions can be drawn about the potential risk to dental patients.
There is the fear that these findings could stop people going to the dentist to treat other conditions, such as gum disease, that could be damaging or even fatal to their health in extreme circumstances. Although it is thought that some forms of surgery have been linked to dementia and other health problems in the past, dentists are still advising that patients visit their dental clinic if they are having problems with their teeth or dental health.