It is increasingly evident that chronic oral inflammation is a contributor to cognitive decline. A new in vitro study shows, for example, that an oral microorganism can invade neurons and trigger neurodegeneration. This adds fuel to the fire raging over 5 years in the following chart.

So what does this new and growing knowledge about the role of oral microorganisms in chronic disease such as dementia, have to do with oral healthcare’s big challenge?

It is this: adjusting its surgical model to the realities of delivering oral healthcare services to a high risk population such as those with pre-dementia and dementia.

Periodontal care, as it is currently practiced, is commonly unfeasible for these kinds of patients. It is invasive, expensive, time consuming and can cause anxiety in a group which is already anxious. It also requires getting to the dental practice.

Some or all of these features limit those with confusion from having their chronic oral inflammation treated.

The pandemic has made clear that new models of long-term care are needed. Likewise, if we are to use these new findings about chronic oral inflammation influencing cognitive decline, then models of oral healthcare are needed too, urgently. A big challenge.