By Howard Hindin, DDS
Porphyromonas gingivalis! Quite a mouthful to say. In fact, that is just where you will find it – a bacteria that lives and grows along with others in the mouth of a person with periodontal disease.
Why is it important for your health and your brain? This same bacteria has been found in arterial plaque of cardiovascular disease and the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Within each of us there are more bacteria than cells. The bacteria that we live with, invited or invited, play an important role in determining our health, behavior, performance and yes, our memory.
Our mouth is not sterile. A universe of bacteria live there. In a healthy mouth, a sample of the bacteria viewed under a microscope is a picture of friendly species, with little movement – peace and calmness. When gums become unhealthy due to lack of proper care, or the influences of systemic factors such as diet, stress, and medications, the oral universe changes. Pathogens replace friendly bacteria. Calmness is replaced by activity.
These unfriendly bacteria move constantly, cluster in groups, and multiply. And, at the same time, the inflammation that accompanies periodontal diseases breaks down the barrier between mouth and body, allowing these pathogens access to the rest of the body including our brains. The tagline “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” does not apply to the bacterial pathogens in the mouth!
As we are finding out, there is no magic bullet for dementia and AD, but identifying all the factors leading to chronic inflammation and physiological dysfunction may be the answer.
What do you need to know – and do? Bleeding gums, bad breath, and oral bone loss is not just about your mouth. Periodontal disease is just that: a disease! It damages your mouth, teeth and gums and its bacteria can access the rest of the body causing problems that do not show till years later.
The good news is that it is treatable with the right practitioner / patient partnership. Yes, it is something we can live with – but at considerable risk. Find the right dentist to partner with and protect your mouth and your brain.