Just like your gut, your oral cavity harbors trillions of bacteria; as board-certified pediatric dentist Saci Whitman, DMD, previously writes for mbg, your oral microbiome is the second most diverse microbiome in our bodies. What’s more, your mouth is the gateway to your body and the beginning of your gastrointestinal tract. Studies have even shown that oral bacteria can actually travel toward the gut and change its microbiota1—and we likely don’t have to remind you of the gut-brain connection.
“So I recommend everyone check out your oral microbiome,” advises Bredesen. (He suggests using a service like MyPerioPath.) “Do you have P. gingivalis, T. denticola, prevotella intermedia, F. nucleatum? These organisms are being found in the brain’ they’re being found in the plaques of coronary arteries… These things are impacting us systemically2.”
For example, one study found that the aforementioned bacteria P. gingivalis, the key pathogen in periodontitis, was identified in the brain of Alzheimer’s disease patients3. Another study suggests a possible link between F. nucleatum 4 (another periodontal pathogen) and Alzheimer’s disease4. And to zoom out more generally, a 2022 study found that poor periodontal health and tooth loss were associated with an increased risk of both cognitive decline and dementia.