Connecting the Mouth and the Brain Through Bacteria

There are many diseases that people never want to hear they have. Cancer is a gut-wrenching diagnosis and with it comes images of enduring chemotherapy and/or radiation. For many decades having cancer meant a probable death. Medicine has come a long way in cancer treatment and many who receive treatments become survivors. In addition to better survival rates from certain types of cancer, deaths from heart disease and stroke have also been reduced in recent years.

One diagnosis that has not seen any reduction in death is Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and it has become one of the most dreaded diagnoses, as there is no cure. People do not want to think about losing their memory, not being able to care for themselves and living in a locked care community. While there may not be a cure for those with advanced AD, there is hope for prevention and the stopping of progression in the early stages. It is fascinating that the dental team can have a role in this.

In the book, The End of Alzheimer’s, author Dale Bredesen, MD, discusses the role of oral bacteria in AD. He specifically calls out three oral bacteria: Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn), and Prevotella intermedia (Pi). Upon autopsy, these pathogens are being found in the brains of people with AD. Research notes another oral pathogen, Treponema denticola (Td), has also been found in Alzheimer’s brains. The presence of these bacteria is thought to play a part in Type I Alzheimer’s which is based on inflammation. Dental professionals recognize Pg as the keystone pathogen in chronic periodontitis. What they may not know is research has suggested an association between periodontal disease and dementia conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. Therefore, reducing this range of bacteria has the potential to keep patients’ brains healthy, as well as their mouths.

The question then becomes, “How do dental professionals know what pathogens are present in their patient’s oral cavity?” A wonderful thing about living in the 21st century, is that dental teams have access to oral bacteria testing such as MyPerioPath®. The sampling process is simple. The test results indicate the type and quantity of the bacteria mentioned above, plus nine more. Once bacterial levels have been identified, personalized treatment plans for reduction of harmful bacteria can be created and executed. Home care products can be recommended and implemented. Once intervention has been applied, then a repeat MyPerioPath® can confirm if treatment and home care have reduced bacterial loads. In this Test, Don’t Guess approach, dentistry can play a vital part in keeping oral health and cognition in-tact.

**To learn more about becoming an OralDNA® Provider: Text “OralDNA” to 31996**

Angie Stone BS RDH

Angie Stone BS RDH

Angie Stone, BS, RDH is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, Certified Care Giver and is the founder and CEO of the HyLife Oral Health Alliance, where they provide oral care services to those suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease. She is the author of the Amazon Best Seller, Dying From Dirty Teeth, which raises awareness to the issue of poor oral health in the elder population. She received the Sunstar Award of Distinction in 2012 and the Innovator in Teledentistry Award in 2019. Both awards are in conjunction with serving the elder population.
Angie Stone BS RDH

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2 thoughts on “Connecting the Mouth and the Brain Through Bacteria

  1. Emily Stein says:

    We used the Oral DNA test to show that our dental product successfully reduces P. gingivalis levels in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. This is a great test with a dynamic range that enables patient tracking over time; which is great for use in clinical studies.

  2. Dr. Thomas Nabors, DDS, FACD says:

    Dear Ms. Stone,
    It is so wonderful to read of your work with AD patients and how oral pathogen testing is improving your treatment and the lives of your patients.
    The original reason that I wanted to develop a lab that would utilize DNA-PCR testing for Periodontal infections was to develop a “Targeted” therapy based on true causation: thus, to improve therapy outcomes. At that time, the literature was just beginning to connect the dots to systemic diseases such as MI, IS, DM, & AD.
    Today, however, we are able to use the literature to define oral infections exactly, as well as connect the dots to systemic ramifications using the same bacterial profiles.
    For clinicians to assume (guess) which pathogens are present in any infection is not appropriate with-in the scientific and medical models of today.
    Bottom line: Oral Health Providers should reconsider what we are doing for our patients. The literature demands that we move our priorities with systemic wellness being first priority and oral wellness being second. Of course, we must be able to understand what we are treating in order to do this. And, being able to use DNA testing has allowed all of us to accomplish both goals.
    Of course, you are doing just that.!!
    Thanks for your note and I hope that others will see how you are improving the lives of your patients in both arenas with oral pathogen testing.
    Kind regards,
    Thomas W. Nabors, DDS, FACD
    Founder of Advanced Dental Diagnostics and OralDNA Labs (Retired)

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