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Bacteria from the Mouth May Increase Risk of Dementia, says Leading Edmond Dentist

Edmond DentistToday we visit with Edmond dentist Dr. Damon R. Johnson. Dr. Johnson talks about how not remembering to brush your teeth early in life may lead to dementia. Oral care for the memory-impaired is also discussed.

Information Nation Blog: We appreciate you joining us today.

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Anytime!

Information Nation Blog: We’re focusing on the relationship between oral care and memory disorders. Is there a link?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Possibly, yes. A study published within the last decade from the University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry found evidence that poor oral health could be linked to dementia.

Information Nation Blog: Haven’t past studies suggested something similar?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: They have, yes. However, this is the first study to actually pinpoint a specific bacteria related to gum disease that may affect the brain.

Information Nation Blog: Interesting…

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: It’s called porphyromonas gingivalis and appears to contribute to failing memory.

Information Nation Blog: How does it get to the brain?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Scientists are still working on a definitive answer to that but it’s believed that improper brushing may leave debris in the mouth that works its way into the brain.

Information Nation Blog: So is it an immune response to the bacteria that triggers memory loss?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: That’s the belief. When the immune system attacks these bacteria it can damage the nerve cells of the brain.

Information Nation Blog: Is there ongoing research to prove this conclusively?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: We are just in the beginning stages of starting to understand how bacterial infections and inflammation of the brain may be related to poor oral hygiene. Researchers continue to delve into the subject.

Information Nation Blog: Well it sounds like it’s a good idea to brush regularly anyway!

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: It absolutely is.

Information Nation Blog: Do you have any oral care advice for those already in the early stages of dementia?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: It’s important that these individuals continue their own mouth care for as long as they can. They may need reminders or supervision but this is one small piece of independence they can hold onto as long as they have the manual dexterity, coordination, and strength to do so.

Information Nation Blog: Are electric toothbrushes recommended for memory-impaired patients?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Electric toothbrushes are better for pretty much everybody. They are far more efficient than a manual brush and may be easier to hold for people with arthritis or failing eyesight.

Information Nation Blog: Are there any special toothpastes or tools for dementia patients?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Depending on the person, we may recommend a fluoridated toothpaste or fluoride gel treatments a few times a year.

Information Nation Blog: As dementia progresses, how should the patient’s caretakers address his or her oral health needs?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: That’s a very individualized concern which the caretaker should discuss with the patient’s dentist or hygienist.

Information Nation Blog: How can they spot dental problems?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: Watch the patient’s behavior. If he or she refuses to eat certain foods, especially hot or cold foods, or start leaving their dentures out, they may be having some trouble.

Information Nation Blog: Unfortunately, we are running out of time. Do you have any closing comments?

Edmond Dentist, Dr. Damon R. Johnson, DDS: I would just like to remind everyone that dental health is not something to be ignored. If you suspect an elderly friend or relative is having trouble managing their own oral hygiene, it may be time to encourage them to seek help.