A study into whether brushing teeth daily can slow memory loss in people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease is recruiting participants through Join Dementia Research.

The MySmile study, led by the University of Bristol and supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), is recruiting people aged 60 and over with either mild cognitive impairment or a diagnosis of early-stage Alzheimer’s dementia. It is open to new volunteers in the Bristol area until August 2024. 

It is hoped that by studying oral health in people with early stages of Alzheimer’s, researchers can best understand how to slow down progression of the disease.

Oral health and Alzheimer’s 

Previous research suggests Alzheimer’s disease may be linked to bacteria in the mouth and this study aims to find out whether maintaining good oral health can help those with the condition can delay symptoms such as memory loss.

People with dementia are also more likely to have poor oral health as they can forget to brush their teeth daily. 

The study

Participants are invited to attend an assessment of their memory and dental health at the Bristol Brain Centre, Southmead Hospital, and will be given an electric toothbrush. 

Those with signs of gum disease are divided into two groups: 

  • The control group, who are asked to continue with their usual dental care routine
  • The study group, who are offered additional dental care

The two groups are then compared to see if the additional dental care helps delay further symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. 

All study participants will be  invited back for further dental check-ups and memory assessments.

Professor Nicola West, the study’s lead investigator at the University of Bristol, said: “Improving dental hygiene is good for all of us, and cleaning teeth twice a day reduces the oral bacteria in a person’s blood stream.  

“We want to find out if a daily brushing routine could also help to protect against dementia.”

To find out if you are eligible to take part in a dementia study, sign in to your Join Dementia Research account or, if you are not already registered, sign up today.