Julia Kathryn Kilroy, Charles Austin Spencer


Presentation: 1:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Kennedy Union Ballroom

This project reflects research conducted as part of a course project designed to give students experience in the research process.

Course: MED 480



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One of the most significant challenges to optimal dental health is simply practicing everyday oral hygiene. A recent study suggests that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria that causes gum disease, is also related to different forms of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Porphyromonas gingivalis can move from the mouth to the brain and damage neurons, leading to memory loss and in time, Alzheimer’s. The majority of nursing home residents are unable to brush their own teeth or dentures, and their primary caretakers frequently lack the necessary training to do so. Furthermore, data shows that most residents in nursing homes are covered by Medicare, which does not cover annual checkups and is necessary for the potential prevention of dementia. Frequent dental check-ups, as well as regular dental cleaning and flossing will help to avoid the need for more invasive procedures later on when the person with dementia may be less able to perform adequate oral hygiene on themselves. Since Medicare doesn’t cover regular dental visits, an alternative solution is teaching healthcare workers to perform necessary oral hygiene. Another solution to this issue is to change the current Medicare coverage to include annual dental visits for those covered by Medicare. This poster proposal illustrates this association of poor oral hygiene and dementia and proposes solutions including educating assisted living workers on the importance of oral hygiene and the need for Medicare coverage of routine dental care.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Course Project

Primary Advisor

Nancy Gilles Romer

Primary Advisor's Department

Premedical Programs


Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Good Health and Well-Being

Changing and Improving Dental Hygiene in Long Term Care Facilities