Wenche Borgnakke, a leading authority on the relationship between periodontal disease and other illnesses in the body, will deliver the keynote address as part of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s Oral Health Week in January.

Borgnakke is an adjunct clinical assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics and Oral Medicine at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Borgnakke’s lecture, titled “The Traveling Oral Microbiome,” will be Jan. 3 at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke. A reception starts at 5 p.m. in the school’s main lobby, with the lecture starting at 6 p.m. in room M203.

Her visit is made possible through a gift by Delta Dental of Virginia and is the seventh annual event designed to promote the importance of oral health in medical education.

“Dr. Borgnakke is a world leading authority in our present knowledge about the role and relationship of periodontal bacteria in systemic disease,” said Charles “Bud” Conklin, associate professor of surgery at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “We are very fortunate to have her as our guest lecturer.”

Borgnakke earned her D.D.S. and Ph.D. from the Royal Dental College in Copenhagen and her master’s degree in dental public health from the University of Michigan. She has published eight book chapters and co-authored more than 70 papers. She is also a reviewer for 22 scientific journals and has lectured nationally and internationally. Among her many accolades are a Special Merit Award and two Clinical Research Awards from the American Academy of Periodontology, and nomination for the Charles C. Shepard Science Award, the most prestigious scientific award by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Borgnakke’s presentation will summarize the scientific evidence for characteristics of the oral microbiome consisting of all the microorganisms in the oral cavity. Bacteria – often antibiotic-resistant – are present in the space between the teeth and the gums when a patient has periodontal disease. These bacteria can easily enter the blood stream and travel to other places in the body and may be linked to a number of illnesses and conditions.

“There is mounting evidence for associations between poor oral health and a multitude of systemic diseases and conditions,” Borgnakke said. “These ailments include diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, renal disease, liver disease, cancers both in the head and neck and in locations remotely from the oral cavity, and possibly adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

Borgnakke’s lecture will include key points for health care professionals to take with them back to their clinics and practices.

“All health care professionals should be aware that there can be no total, general health without health in the oral cavity,” she said. “Non-dental health professionals should at a minimum inspect their patients’ oral cavity for blatant infection and ask about any symptoms or problems with their mouth.”

Borgnakke also recommends medical and dental care professionals follow the current official guidelines and stop prescribing antibiotics for preventive reasons before procedures such as deep dental cleanings and extractions, except for extremely rare cases.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in an adjacent deck.

For special accommodations or more information, contact Lynne Pearo by phone at 540-581-0277 or by email.

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