Morden Dentist Studies links VCJD to Dental Decay

A new study has linked the life-threatening disease variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of mad cow disease, with dental decay. It has suggested that the route of infection may be via untreated dental decay and not via the stomach as previously thought.

A group of Welsh researchers have put together the hypothesis that vCJD is linked to dental decay. The hypothesis suggests that tooth decay may be the means by which people became infected by the deadly disease after eating contaminated meat in the 1980s. Dr Roland Salmon, one of the Public Health Wales members who have come up with the hypothesis, said that the hypothesis also explains the geographical spread of the disease, as the number of cases is higher in Scotland and the North East of England, where dental decay rates are highest.

Dr Salmon said that there were three main problems which were difficult to explain -the number of cases of vCJD, are very low, considering that tonnes of contaminated meat were consumed during the 1980s, the age of the people who have developed the disease remains unchanged  and the geographical spread of the disease. The positive correlation between dental decay and vCJD arose from analysis of data collected by the British Association of the Study of Community Dentistry. The group surmised that people had become infected by the disease through minute gaps between the teeth in people who were suffering from untreated decay.

According to Dr Salmon, the hypothesis linking dental decay to vCJD has “some mileage”; the study has now been published in the journal, Dental Hypotheses