Body–Mouth Connection

How Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, cancers and more are linked to oral health

A range of diseases, ranging from Alzheimer’s and periodontal disease to arthritis, diabetes and cancers, have been linked to Porphyromonas gingivalis – a bacterium often found in interdental spaces. This makes dental practices like yours important in aiding the prevention of serious diseases affecting more than the mouth. Read on to learn about the bacteria and what you can do to help your patients reduce risks in the future.

While oral health and overall health have long been known to be closely related, recent research on a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis revealed even more connections between dental care and the general well-being of your patients.

According to the research of Prof. Denis Bourgeois at Lyon University, P. gingivalis is considered a “keystone pathogen” for the initiation and progression of periodontal disease, but, perhaps surprisingly, it’s also been found to be a risk factor for a whole set of other serious non-communicable diseases and conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus erythematosus and more.

How is this relevant for dental professionals? P. gingivalis has been detected in the interdental spaces of 19% of young healthy adults aged 18 to 35 years, and of 6% of adolescents aged 15 to 17 years. What’s more, it is often present in patients who do not display any clinical signs of gingivitis, periodontitis or caries, which complicates its early treatment and prevention.

This places your patients at risk of developing periodontal disease and other non-communicable diseases without any previous signs of trouble. The only way to help prevent these conditions is to deliberately act against the interdental dysbiosis and the interdental inflammatory response induced by P. gingivalis.

One of the ways to keep the interdental spaces of your patients healthy is instructing them on proper use of calibrated interdental brushes. Proper, long-term use of interdental brushes is an effective way to prevent periodontal disease and keep the periodontium healthy, directly reducing risks of developing any of the conditions mentioned above.

Through educating your patients on why using interdental brushes is important for their overall health and showing them how to do it properly, you as a dental professional play a key role in your patients’ long-term well-being, far beyond oral health.

Prof. Denis Bourgeois, University Lyon 1, Laboratory “Health Systemic Process”, EA4129, 69008 Lyon, France