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The flossing-memory connection

Expert insight:

When you don’t floss, a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis accumulates in your gums, explains study author Piotr Mydel, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Bergen in Norway. This can cause periodontitis, which is characterized by tender, inflamed gums that bleed when you floss or brush.

But on top of that, Mydel and his team found DNA-based proof that the bacteria can travel from the mouth to the brain, where it may produce a protein that destroys nerve cells. The resulting damage is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Separate research links gum disease to stroke, indicating that flossing supports brain health in more ways than one.

The bottom line:

Floss every day to improve dental health now and memory down the line. If your gums ache or bleed, schedule an appointment with your dentist.