Dr. Joseph Banker is a veteran cosmetic dentist who has contributed to several media outlets including Newsweek, Shape Magazine and DentalTown. He studied at the prestigious University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and trained at The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and the Rosenthal Institute of New York University.
When I learned that Dr. Banker was interested in the relationship between gum disease and Alzheimer’s I requested an interview with him. Below are Dr. Banker’s answers to my questions on the relationship between oral health and Alzheimer's disease.
CBB: Dr. Banker, my main interest lies in learning more about the increasing evidence that oral health and Alzheimer’s disease may be related. Can you explain why this is the case?
JB: The relationship between gum disease and other systemic diseases such as heart disease have been well established. Until recently, there was never evidence that there may be a relationship to Alzheimer's disease. There is a bacteria called porphyromonas gingivalis found under the gums of patients with active gum disease. The new research performed on patients with dementia found this bacteria in the brains of a significant number of those patients.
CBB: Often it’s hard to prove a true cause and effect link to some health issues and Alzheimer’s disease. How significant is this finding?
JB: Presently, the significance of this finding is being established. It remains to be determined if the presence of the p. gingivalis caused the dementia, contributed to it, or had no relationship to it at all. What is clear is that poor oral health has significant systemic ramifications. If the presence of this bacteria is found to be a significant factor in the progression of dementia, visits to the dentist will be considered even more important than ever.
CBB: So many elders have other health issues that seem to overtake the importance of replacing crowns or missing teeth. How aggressively should elderly people or their caregivers pursue replacing missing teeth and major oral issues?
JB: My grandfather was a CPA who worked for the IRS. He was a very methodical man who was meticulous in everything he did. He had all of his teeth until age 81 when he fractured a tooth beyond repair. Immediately after I removed that tooth, he asked "What are you going to put there?" I was stunned, but learned a valuable lesson. Just because he was 81 was no reason to give up on his oral health. He lived his whole life with all of his teeth and wasn't about to change that. So, I fabricated a permanent replacement which remained in his mouth until he passed away at 91. My grandmother is now 97 and still has every one of her teeth.
Both of my grandparents took excellent care of their teeth and oral health. Their teeth lasted a lifetime. Dementia was not an issue for either of them. Their optimal oral health likely helped extend the length and quality of their lives. Grandma still enjoys chewing her food while many of her friends struggle to eat with dentures.
CBB: Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a progressive dentist for their care let alone a relative like your father did. Is it realistic to think that most elderly people can benefit from such advanced care?
JB: There have been significant advances in tooth replacement. We are fortunate to be able to predictably replace entire mouths of teeth rapidly, often in one day. Patients of all ages may be good candidates. These procedures can be life changing. It is so gratifying to be able to throw away a patients removable denture and send them home with new, permanent teeth. They can enjoy food again!
CBB: Thank you, Dr. Banker, for passing on your knowledge and for sharing your time with the readers of HealthCentral.
Dr. Joseph Banker, D.M.D of Creative Dental Care is a veteran cosmetic dentist who has been named "Top Dentist" by New Jersey Monthly Magazine for four consecutive years. He studied at the prestigious University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jerse, and trained at The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and the Rosenthal Institute of NYU. Dr. Banker has contributed to several media outlets including Newsweek, Shape Magazine, DentalTown and has previously served as a dental consultant for the show Extreme Makeover.
Published On: December 02, 2014