Alzheimer’s and Periodontics link

“If you are taking care of your dentition, you are helping to prevent cognitive decline” Dale Bredesen

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a progressive neurologic disorder which causes the brain to shrink and atrophy. It is one of the most common causes of dementia, leading to a decline in thinking, memory and the ability to perform social skills.

Changes in the brain may begin a decade or so before symptoms actually become noticeable, and there is evidence to suggest that diet and lifestyle factors can prevent, and reverse early stages of this disease.

Dale Bredesen, author of the book The End of Alzheimer’s, has developed strategies to prevent and reverse early stages of AD. He refers to ‘36 holes in the roof’ relating to the 36 metabolic factors associated with cognitive decline. Balancing blood sugar, getting optimal levels of good quality sleep, and ensuring you have enough of specific nutrients e.g. zinc, vitamin D and vitamin B12 are a few simple factors.

Dale Bredesen also describes the mouth as ‘one the most important sources for the insults associated with cognitive decline’. Bacteria which are responsible for causing periodontal disease namely P. gingivalis, T. denticola, F. nucleatum and P.intermedia have been found in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease.  Once thought to be isolated to the mouth, these bacteria are finding their way to important tissues, such as the brain.

When your gums bleed the pathogenic bacteria have free access to the blood stream, where they can be transported to organs or joints – cardiovascular disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis are also implicated by this same process.

Undertaking oral hygiene practices and attending regular appointments with your hygienist are ways to decrease levels of the pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. These measures also improve periodontal health to create a more robust epithelial barrier at the gum/tooth interface reducing the risk of bleeding. If your gingival bleeding score (recorded by your hygienist) is not improving, and or your levels remain high despite treatment, consider nutrient testing (available at Central England Referral Centre. Oral microbiome screening, to test for the periodontal pathogens, is coming soon.

By Keeley Nicholas BDS. MFGDP(UK). MSc (Nutritional Therapy). IFMCP.

Keeley is a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner and BANT registered Nutritional Therapist. She offers a 20minute complementary Health Review to discuss your health concerns, and 1-2-1 health programmes to support you in the creation of your optimal health.

Contact her at



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