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Pathogens in the Brain--The Oral Connection.


Often times, pioneers of medicine, as well as dentistry are disregarded due to their disruption of the status quo. They become marked as rebels, controversial, and even "quacks" due to their methodologies; however, their groundbreaking ideas and discoveries sometimes come full circle. DNA testing is now proving what the science of yesteryear and clinical observation was showing, that the mouth is the key to health--good or bad.

More than a century ago, the subject of the mouth as the source of infection was being investigated by the luminaries of the day. Today this transference is referred to as "bidirectional," meaning that the microorganisms or their toxins could travel to other parts of the body.

Pioneer, Dr. William Hunter, a senior assistant physician, at the London Fever Hospital, published a paper in July 1900, titled, "Oral Sepsis as a Cause of Disease." This subject was of great interest to him for many years. His research revealed that the number of microorganisms that cause oral sepsis, and also contribute to many conditions, could be infinite. In the course of his investigation, he found pyorrhea alveolaris, stomatitis, gingivitis, erythematosa, pustulosa ulcerosa and gangraenosa. He observed that all of the various conditions were, in fact, septic in their nature and were produced by what he called "pus organisms." He continued, "These organisms were associated with every case of dental caries, no matter how slight." (1)

Hunter's message to all medical professionals such as physicians, surgeons, dental surgeons, and also patients offered solutions to help the patient recover, recommending not just a simple mouth rinse, but the following:
(1) direct application to the diseased tooth or inflamed gum of
carbolic acid (1 in 20), repeated daily for just so long a period as
the patient will persist in keeping his necrosed tooth or fang; still
better (2) the removal of all diseased useless stumps; (3) the most
scrupulous daily sterilizing by boiling of every tooth plate worn; and
(4) on the part of dentists, the avoidance of too much conservative
dentistry and the use of contrivances like 'bridges', which cannot
possibly be kept aseptic. (1)

Hunter's insight to the problem of oral pathogens was truly remarkable for the time. His vision of preventive medicine is where we, now a hundred years later, need to return to. A world where doctors, dentists, and all health and wellness professionals work together for the benefit of the patient. What Hunter described so long ago, is what we call a full dental revision today.

Others followed in the footsteps of Hunter such as Dr. Frank Billings, professor of medicine at Rush Medical College and Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, who originally coined the term "focal infection." Fifteen years after Hunter's trailblazing article, Billings published Focal Infection--The Lane Medical Lectures. (2) Billings, using both human and animal tissues as the source in their research, remarked that there was a tremendous team effort made in order to complete this work. He made a special acknowledgement about Edward C. Rosenow, who joined the clinic in 1904, saying his work was brilliant. Billings confirmed that their conclusions were not made until a critical survey of the work and results were investigated by other qualified clinicians, pathologists, and research workers.

Billings stated, "A focus of infection may be defined as a circumscribed area of tissue infected with pathogenic microorganisms. Foci of infection may be primary and secondary."

Billings continued:
... the incidence of infections in the mouth is enormous everywhere. In
addition to the presence of innumerable saprophytes in the mouth and
pharynx, one may find in the saliva and pharyngeal mucus, streptococci
and staphylococci, micrococcus catarrhalis, pneumococci, diphtheria and
pseudodiphtheria bacilli, meningococci, tubercle bacilli and many other
pathogenic bacteria. C.C. Bass and others state that endameba buccalis
was found in the mouths of 95 and even 100 percent of all adults
examined. (2)

After Billings and Rosenow, came Weston A. Price, a Cleveland dentist, who along with his predecessors, looked at the connection of dentistry to nutrition and its relationship in overall health. (3) Price also praised the work of Rosenow, who by then was at the Mayo Institute. Price did extraordinary research on root canal teeth, using the methods of Rosenow, by studying bacteria and its mutations in humans and animals. He confirmed what his peers had found:
The great majority of adults and children are, therefore, carrying as
dental foci, the strains of organisms which are found in the majority
of heart, kidney, joint and muscle, and nerve lesions, and which are
potentially capable of producing these in the absence of an adequate

Price also found that dental infections involving root canals almost always contained streptococci, which had many types or strains. (4) He realized that many of the methods used for sterilization of infected teeth did serious damage to the supporting structures around the teeth. Specifically, he discovered that root canal filling material rarely filled the pulp canal sufficiently to shut out bacteria, therefore, leaving room for infection.

By the 1930s the focal infection theory was falling out of favor, with some who observed: "If this craze of violent removal goes on, it will come to pass that we will have a gutless, glandless, toothless--and I am not so sure that we may have, thanks to false psychology and surgery, a witless race...."

Decades later, my friend and mentor, Dr. Hal Huggins was gifted the archival original research of Dr. Weston A. Price, which prompted Dr. Huggins to analyze the DNA of extracted root canal teeth. He discovered 83 different anaerobic bacterial species. Huggins found that many of the bacterial species that were identified over one hundred years ago were still prevalent today.

In the Townsend Letter, July 2017, we had written an article on Lyme disease. (5) We spoke of how Dr. Huggins developed what was then called the "Full View Test," now called the "Oral Panel" to identify the microorganisms. These organisms are present in the only part of the human body that cannot be effectively defended by the immune system; the mouth. He encouraged all dentists who were removing unserviceable root canals to send them to Dental DNA for molecular-based testing. This was the laboratory he established to identify microorganisms present in oral infections. I spent over two decades being mentored by Dr. Huggins. Together, we developed the Huggins-Grube Protocol that educates dentists, doctors, and other health care professionals, as well as consumers, on biological and holistic dentistry. When he passed away, I took over his work and am continuing the lab, which was renamed DNA Connexions.

Today we know that the pathogens in the mouth are affecting the brain and many neurodegenerative diseases have been linked to these oral pathogens. (6-11) When the brain is damaged, it can affect numerous functions in the body, including memory, sensation, and personalities.

Some of the common brain diseases are the following:

* Alzheimer's disease,

* Parkinson's disease,

* Huntington's disease,

* Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease,

* All forms of dementia,

* Memory loss,

* Forgetfulness,

* Apathy,

* Anxiety,

* Agitation,

* A loss of inhibition, and

* Mood changes.

The scientific research is now showing that oral pathogens are not only being found in the brain, but also other distant parts of the body. These microorganisms found via DNA-PCR testing are all found in periodontal disease:

* A. actinomycetemcomitans, a Gram-negative bacterium that is commonly found in the oral cavity and has also been found in brain abscesses;

* P. gingivalis and selective spirochetes that have been found in Alzheimer's disease brains;

* P. intermedia, a Gram-negative bacterium known to colonize in the respiratory tract and is associated with cystic fibrosis, chronic bronchitis and abscesses in the head and neck, as well as meningitis;

* B. forsythus, a Gram-negative bacterium linked to periodontal disease;

* C. rectus, E., a Gram-negative bacterium that has been found in brain abscesses and emerging evidence shows it could become a major periodontal pathogen;

* E. nodatum, a Gram-positive microbe that has been found in periodontitis;

* Treponema sp., a Gram-negative bacterium; compelling evidence is showing that treponemes are involved in the etiology of several chronic diseases, including periodontitis and other forms of periodontal disease.

Typically, the mouth harbors at least six billion bacteria. The red complex, which includes Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola, and Tannerella forsythia (formerly Bacteroides forsythus), encompasses the most important pathogens in adult periodontal disease. Additionally, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Prevotella species, Eikenella corrodens, Peptostreptococcus micros, and Campylobacter rectus are increased in deep periodontal pockets and are implicated as possible periodontopathogens. (12) These bacteria are not usually found alone, but in combination, suggesting that some bacteria may cause destruction of the periodontal tissue in a cooperative manner.

The science shows that oral pathogens are likely to promote disease progression.


(1.) Hunter W. Oral Sepsis as a Cause of Disease. The British Medical Journal. July 1900;215-16.

(2.) Billings F. Focal infection. New York: D Appleton & Co., 1916.

(3.) Price WA. The Pathology of Dental Infections and Its Relation to General Diseases. Annual Meeting Canadian Prophylactic Association, Toronto 1916.

(4.) Price WA. Dental Infections and the Degenerative Diseases. The Pestos Press Co. 1923.

(5.) Grube BD, Douglas U. How Finding a Lyme Spirochete in a Root-Canal Tooth Led to the Development of a New Test Panel. Townsend Letter. July 2017.

(6.) Pritchard A, et al. Periodontitis, Microsomes and their Role in Alzheimer's Disease. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017; 9: 336.

(7.) Mo S, et al. A Chinese case of prevotella intermedia and streptococcus constellatus intracranial mixed infection. Metab Brain Dis. 2018; 33(1): 161-166.

(8.) Leys EJ, et al, Association of Bacteroides forsythus and a Novel Bacteroides Phylotype with Periodontitis. J Clin Microbiol. 2002 40(3):821-825.

(9.) Martiny D, et al. MALDI-TOF MS contribution to the diagnosis of Campylobacter rectus multiple skull base and brain abscesses. New Microbes New Infect. 2017; 19: 83-86.

(10.) Haffajee AD, et al, Association of Eubacterium nodatum and Treponema denticola human periodontitis lesions. Oral Microbiology and Immunology. October 2006;21(5):269-82.

(11.) Dashper SG, et al. Virulence Factors of the Oral Spirochete Treponema denticola. J Dent Res. June 2011; 90(6): 691-703.

(12.) Suzuki N, et al. Mixed Red-Complex Bacterial Infection in Periodontitis. Int J Dent. 2013; 2013: 587279

by Blanche D. Grube, DDS, PhD

Blanche D. Grube graduated from Queens College, CUNY and received her doctorate from UMDNJ, now Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. She holds a second doctorate from Capital University of Integrative Medicine, Washington DC, and is a board-certified biological dentist and a past president of IABDM. Besides holding several fellowships, she is the owner and CEO of DNA Connexions, Biocomp Laboratories, Huggins Applied Healing and Centers for Healing.
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Author:Grube, Blanche D.
Publication:Townsend Letter
Date:Oct 1, 2018
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