Dr. McGlennen: Concerning dementia and brain health, recent medical studies point to poor oral health, and high levels of the bacteria in our gums with the increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia1-3. Specifically, there is now evidence of the oral pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), present in brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid and it may be involved with the production of the abnormal proteins that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease4. Additionally, the direct effects of those oral bacteria to cause atherosclerosis in the vessels within the brain impart significant risk for stroke and vascular types of dementia5.
Many dental and medical practitioners are incorporating an overall health approach. We have invited Dr. Steven Ritzi of Ritzi Dental, to share how they present to a patient, communicating the link between periodontal pathogens and dementia/brain health.
Dr. Steven Ritzi: Let me begin by stating, many of my patients are reaching the age where they are caring for aging parents. They are seeing the impact of many systemic diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and they are interested in prevention of diseases. Here is how my team and I approach the educational opportunity of what we can do to help them be more proactive. “Patient, we are learning that diseases like Alzheimer’s may have a link to bacteria found in our mouths. Our goal for you is to help you maintain your best oral health so that we can confidently say that your oral health is not negatively impacting your overall health. Salivary testing with MyPerioPath® is the first tool we use. If we can identify the bacteria present in the oral cavity and target our dental care to decrease or eliminate that bacteria, we have a better chance of accomplishing our goal, namely decreasing the risk for the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s.”
- Abbayya K, Puthanakar NY, Naduwinmani S, Chidambar YS. Association between Periodontitis and Alzheimer’s Disease. N Am J Med Sci 2015;7:241-6.
- Cerajewska TL, Davies M, West NX. Periodontitis: a potential risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Br Dent J 2015;218:29-34.
- Pritchard AB, Crean S, Olsen I, Singhrao SK. Periodontitis, Microbiomes and their Role in Alzheimer’s Disease. Front Aging Neurosci 2017;9:336.
- Dominy SS, Lynch C, Ermini F, et al. Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors. Sci Adv 2019;5:eaau3333.
- Choi S, Kim K, Chang J, et al. Association of Chronic Periodontitis on Alzheimer’s Disease or Vascular Dementia. J Am Geriatr Soc 2019.
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