Chairside Connection: The impact of oral health on brain health for Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month

June 10, 2024
Reduced cognition and dexterity challenges often lead to more periodontal problems for dementia patients. What can dental professionals do to help?

During June, when we observe those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases, we understand that our patients who need periodontal care the most may be the people who are least able to provide it for themselves. Data suggests that perio keystone pathogens in people with ongoing inflammatory perio disease spill into the bloodstream and enhance degenerative brain changes.

How does Dr. Tim Donley, Philips Oral Healthcare KOL, discuss the brain link with his patients? First, he says, we need a new narrative. In his office, they explain to patients that inflammation anywhere in the body is bad and invite them to partner with the dental team throughout their life to get their mouth free of disease and then keeping it that way.

Customize this message to someone’s most prominent presenting risk factor. Those with a family history of Alzheimer’s disease should place their oral health front and center. Dr. Donley has personally encountered Alzheimer’s in his family and with a close friend, and he knows firsthand its devastating effects on loved ones and caregivers.

He places the brain health conversation among some of the most important with patients. Dental professionals can make a huge difference in people’s lives when it comes to their brain health. We can actually help slow the progression of these diseases, and in some cases, hopefully even prevent them. Many of the tools Dr. Donley uses in his practice are from Philips.

Based on his experiences, Dr. Donley shares insights for those who have been diagnosed with some form of dementia and those who care for them. Listen to what we discuss in this latest Chairside Connection.

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About the Author

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD

Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, is the chief editor of DentistryIQ and editorial co-director of Through the Loupes. Based in Salem, Massachusetts, Dr. Maragliano-Muniz began her clinical career as a dental hygienist. She went on to attend Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she earned her doctorate in dental medicine. She then attended the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dental Medicine, where she became board-certified in prosthodontics. Dr. Maragliano-Muniz owns a private practice, Salem Dental Arts, and lectures on a variety of clinical topics. You may contact her at [email protected].


Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, named chief editor of DentistryIQ

About the Author

Tim Donley, DDS

Tim Donley, DDS, OraPharma consultant, is a sought-after international speaker and a leader in the areas of gum disease and dental implants. Dr. Donley graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University School of Dentistry, and did his residency at Indiana Medical Center. His diagnostic and treatment protocols have been adopted by numerous offices interested in providing the highest level of care to their patients.