I. Stephen Brown, DDS
(215) 735-3660


Archive for the ‘Your Overall Health’ Category

What Is The Link Between Gingivitis and Alzheimer’s Disease?

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

What is the worst thing that can happen if we don’t take care of our teeth and maintain good oral hygiene? If you look after your teeth, you won’t just avoid holes in your teeth and keep your pearly whites, but you may very well prevent yourself from something that goes far deeper. Gum disease, commonly known as gingivitis, may very well play a role in someone developing Alzheimer’s disease. How is this, and how does it impact us?

A study published in the medical journal Science Advances highlighted a pathogen called Porphyromonas gingivalis that was discovered in the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to this, gingipains, toxic enzymes made by the Porphyromonas gingivalis bacterium, were also present in many brain samples. The link between gingivitis and Alzheimer’s disease is that the toxic substances produced by the gingipains are directly related to the levels of tau and ubiquitin, which are proteins linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

The idea was initially mentioned in the early 20th century by Alois Alzheimer, who suggested that infections contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, there was evidence to highlight that chronic inflammation can be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a common battle we are fighting when it comes to our oral health.

How Is This Being Combated?

While there is evidence to highlight a strong link between Porphyromonas gingivalis and Alzheimer’s, the research doesn’t point exclusively towards gingivitis as the sole reason behind Alzheimer’s disease. There are many things that you would need to consider. While infections are not the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, they can play a role. For example, the production of proteins called beta-amyloid can be the brain’s way of protecting itself against Alzheimer’s. And an over-accumulation of beta-amyloid could result in the plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional research has highlighted the effects of certain medications on blocking the enzymes from the bacteria, which postpones the development of Alzheimer’s disease. There is still more research to be conducted, but what does this mean?

Will I Get Alzheimer’s Disease if I Don’t Brush My Teeth?

The study has highlighted that the enzymes from the bacteria can be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but the research is still in its infancy. It would not be correct to say that if you don’t brush your teeth, your chances of getting Alzheimer’s greatly increase. But rather, it is important to realize that preventing the bacteria in your mouth is more of a priority. Alzheimer’s is the result of many different external factors, such as genetics and lifestyle.

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Gingivitis?

The studies have highlighted the impacts of the enzymes caused by bacteria in relation to developing Alzheimer’s. The lesson is very simple, that prevention is better than cure. The bottom line when it comes to reducing the risk of gingivitis is to maintain good oral hygiene. We can have concerns that if we do not prevent gingivitis, that we are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. But there are many factors to consider in regards to this, such as your genetics, your predisposition to certain illnesses and ailments, as well as your oral hygiene.

The research conducted by Broegelmanns Research Laboratory, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen (UiB) has highlighted the impacts of the enzymes from the bacteria moving from the mouth to the brain. But in the same study, bacteria are not shown as the root cause. Merely, it is the presence of the bacteria that raises the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In the same study, researcher Piotr Mydel states there are two very simple, but critical, things that you can do to slow down Alzheimer’s: Brush your teeth and floss

Preventing gingivitis by brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing at least once a day as well as having regular check-ups will keep gingivitis at bay.

What Are the Risk Factors for Gingivitis?

Addressing your lifestyle can be key to minimize the risk factors for gingivitis. Some diseases like diabetes and cancer are linked to a higher risk of gingivitis. In addition, certain lifestyle choices, such as smoking, are more likely to develop gingivitis. In addition, a poor diet, such as one lacking in vitamin C is linked to gum disease. Also, those with a family history of gingivitis are more predisposed to developing it.

What if I Already Have Gingivitis?

If you have concerns that you have gingivitis, it is important to recognize the symptoms:

  • Bright, red, or purple gums
  • Bleeding from the gums when flossing or brushing
  • Inflammation or swollen gums
  • Soft gums
  • Tender gums that may be painful to touch

If you have any of the symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. I. Stephen Brown for an exam. If a diagnosis is reached early, and the treatment is undertaken quickly, gingivitis can be reversed.

Is It Time To Schedule an Appointment?

We shouldn’t be gingerly when it comes to gingivitis. As you can see, there is a link between gingivitis and Alzheimer’s. While there is still a lot of research left to go to truly highlight if gingivitis is a direct cause of Alzheimer’s, you should not hesitate to get any symptoms of gingivitis checked out as soon as possible. Dr. Brown and his team are ready to help you diagnose and treat gingivitis. If you are experiencing any symptoms, get in contact with us by calling or requesting a virtual consultation.

Gingivitis can be, at best, frustrating, but at worst, it could leave too many complications, such as loss of teeth, but at the very worst, it could be a signifier for Alzheimer’s disease. Contact us so we can provide the best possible care and help you look after your oral health and future.

Bad Breath and Your Overall Health

Saturday, May 30th, 2020

When it comes to bad breath, a lot of people assume that it’s merely an embarrassing problem, and not linked to your general health in any way. However, a lack of oral hygiene doesn’t simply cause bad breath. There are a wide number of health-related issues that can impact your health.

The fact is that at one point or another, almost everyone will experience bad breath. For some people, bad breath is a daily problem; for others, it happens every so often and isn’t a significant cause for concern. Around 30% of the population has experienced bad breath at one point or another – it’s a fairly common health complaint and usually a benign one.

Commonly, bad breath occurs after waking up in the morning or after eating food containing high amounts of garlic or onion. Coffee and smoking can also cause bad breath, as can being on a calorie-reduced diet. A lot of people don’t notice that they have bad breath and learn about it from a friend, family member, or co-worker who mentions it to them, causing upset and embarrassment.

What causes bad breath, and how is it linked to your general health?

Internal and external factors: Bad breath can originate both inside and outside of your mouth. Often, bad breath is caused by bacteria that collect on the teeth and tongue and cause foul-smelling breath. Often, poor oral hygiene can lead to bad breath, as can dental problems such as cavities, mouth abscesses, and gum disease.

Infections: Infections and illnesses, such as tonsillitis, respiratory infections, sinusitis, and bronchitis, as well as gastrointestinal disease, can cause bad breath.

Disease: Certain diseases in their advanced stages, such as liver and kidney diseases, can also cause bad breath to occur. Uncontrolled diabetes can also cause bad breath to occur. However, it’s important to note that in these cases, a person will almost always have other symptoms alongside their bad breath.

How to manage bad breath?

When it comes to managing bad breath, the most crucial factor is to have the underlying cause diagnosed. If you are taking care of your teeth and gums, and your oral hygiene is up to scratch, then the chances are that it is not an oral hygiene problem causing your breath issues.

In the first instance, you should make an appointment to see your doctor and advise you about the steps you should take to manage your bad breath. They may be able to suggest a treatment route or refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist for further testing and support.

If you are concerned that it is a dental issue, then seeking support from Dr. I. Stephen Brown should be the first step. He will be able to check your teeth and gums and determine whether there is an oral problem causing your bad breath, or whether there is another underlying cause that needs to be investigated. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

The Periodontal to Systemic Disease Link

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

A series of consensus reports recently published by the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and the American Academy helps define the association between periodontal health and systemic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and adverse pregnancy complications.

As a periodontist in Philadelphia, I am continually trying to better understand the relationship between periodontal disease and other diseases, allowing me to help my patients improve both their periodontal and systemic health.

These reports cover the links between periodontal disease and the following systemic diseases:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Adverse pregnancy outcomes
  • COPD
  • Pneumonia
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cancer

The reports can be viewed here: http://www.joponline.org/toc/jop/84/4-s

These exciting advancements further stress the importance of maintaining oral health and allow us to help individuals increase overall health when treating periodontal disease.

To discuss these advancements further, or to see if treating your periodontal disease could improve your overall health, please contact our Philadelphia dental office.

The Different Types of Periodontal Disease in Children

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Hormonal changes related to puberty can put teens at greater risk for getting periodontal disease. During puberty, an increased level of hormones, such as progesterone and possibly estrogen, cause increased blood circulation to the gums. This may cause an increase in the gum’s sensitivity and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel tender.

As a teen progresses through puberty, the tendency for the gums to swell in response to irritants will lessen. However, during puberty, it is very important to follow a good at-home dental hygiene regimen, including regular brushing and flossing, and regular dental care. In some cases, a dental professional may recommend periodontal therapy to help prevent damage to the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth.

3 Different Types of Periodontal Disease that Commonly Affect Children

Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It usually causes gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily. Gingivitis is both preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. However, left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.

Aggressive periodontitis can affect young people who are otherwise healthy. Localized aggressive periodontitis is found in teenagers and young adults and mainly affects the first molars and incisors. It is characterized by the severe loss of alveolar bone, and ironically, patients generally form very little dental plaque or calculus.

Generalized aggressive periodontitis may begin around puberty and involve the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus. Eventually it can cause the teeth to become loose.

To learn more about periodontal disease, or to set up an evaluation for your child today, please contact our Philadelphia dental office.

The Risk Factors of Gum Disease

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Fortunately, there are many factors that contribute to gum disease which we can control. In the ongoing fight against gum disease and for the protection of your overall health it is incredibly important to be aware of the following contributors to gum disease.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.

Poor Nutrition and Obesity

A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums. In addition, research has shown that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.


Research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early intervention treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.


Stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. Stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.


Studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontists.

Smoking/Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.


Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.

Other Systemic Diseases

Other systemic diseases that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.