Bacteria in Gum Disease Attacks the Jaw too

Scientists and dentists alike have known for several years that gum disease is caused by bacteria, but they’ve only just very, very recently been able to pinpoint exactly which type of bacteria is the culprit.

However, this study also discovered another interesting fact about this bacterium (called NI1060); not only does it cause gum disease, it also turns a protective protein in the mouth into a traitor. The protein will actually produce bone-destroying cells that attacks the jawbone. Normally, this protein fights harmful bacteria in the mouth, but not when NI1060 is present.

“Nod1 [the protein] is a part of our protective mechanisms against bacterial infection. It helps us to fight infection by recruiting neutrophils, blood cells that act as bacterial killers,” Naohiro Inohara, research associate professor at the U-M Health System and member of research team, said. “It also removes harmful bacteria during infection. However, in the case of periodontitis, accumulation of NI1060 stimulates Nod1 to trigger neutrophils and osteoclasts, which are cells that destroy bone in the oral cavity.”

William Giannobile, professor of dentistry at the U-M Health System, said, “The findings from this study underscore the connection between beneficial and harmful bacteria that normally reside in the oral cavity, how a harmful bacterium causes the disease, and how an at-risk patient might respond to such bacteria.”

He went on to say that this could lead to more personalized therapy and treatments for patients diagnosed with gum disease.

The more we learn about gum disease, the more serious the disease becomes. It can affect your overall health, heart health, diabetes, and now it seems that the bacteria involved attacks the jawbone as well. These findings make it all the more important to keep your regular, routine dental check-ups and make sure you always voice any concerns, no matter how minor they may seem, to your dentist.

First Periodontitis At-Home Test Developed


Courtesy of dentognostics, developers of Periosafe

Researchers in Finland have developed the first first at-home test for detecting periodontitis. Specifically, the test screens for the presence of an enzyme in your saliva that is responsible for the gum disease. The test is geared for people who are chronically ill and women trying to conceive, as both are at the highest risk for adverse health effects due to gum disease.

The test, called PerioSafe, is a pain-free device patients can administer to themselves that will give results in 10 minutes.

The researchers said that they wanted to create an easy, at-home test for periodontal disease because there are over 28 million people in Germany alone who need treatment for periodontitis, and only one million people are currently treating it. According to the World Health Organization, severe periodontitis is found in 15-20% of adults between the ages of 35 to 44 worldwide.

Such an early detection for periodontitis is extremely important for patients suffering from diabetes, rheumatism, or cardiovascular or lung disease and women who want to conceive or who are already pregnant. Periodontitis has been found to greatly increase the mortality rates for diabetics and the risk of premature birth. Periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk of stroke as well as other serious health problems.

The test is currently only for sale within Europe, but if it passes FDA standards as well as the standards of the ADA, then hopefully this test will be found in US stores as well. Of course, such a test should never be a substitute for visiting your dentist on a regular basis.

Obesity Conclusively Linked to Gum Disease


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It’s been suggested for awhile now that there is a link between obesity and gum disease. There are already links between diabetes and gum disease, and of course there are links between obesity and diabetes, so one would think that conclusively means there is a link between obesity and gum disease. However, there has been no actual evidence to link gum disease to obesity until now.

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University have found the link between obesity and gum disease by the underlying inflammatory processes found in both conditions.

“Obese individuals’ bodies relentlessly produce cytokines, proteins with inflammatory properties. These cytokines may directly injure the gum tissue or reduce blood flow to the gum tissue, thus promoting the development of gum disease,” explained Dr. Charlene Krejci, the study’s lead author and associate professor at the university.[..Read More]

Blackberries could treat gum disease

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So, how is this for a bit of contradictory information? We recently said that blackberries should be avoided since they can stain your teeth. And lo and behold, new research surfaces that claims blackberry extract can actually control the growth of oral bacteria, thereby preventing or treating cavities and progression of gum disease.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky tested the effects of blackberry extract on ten different oral bacteria, and they found that the extract significantly reduces the metabolic activity of the bacteria known to cause periodontal disease and cavities by up to 40 percent. They also found that at high concentrations, the extract could kill the bacteria.

The researchers have even suggested that berry-derived polyphenols, which are found in red wine and black tea as well, could also be involved in this blackberry extract process. In other words, is this yet another reason to drink red wine and black teas? Many doctors have already recommended it due to the heart health benefits.

So, what to do with this conflicting information?

It’s true that blackberries, black tea, and red wine will stain and discolor your teeth over time. It’s also true that research has shown that they have health benefits, which now includes fighting periodontal disease and cavity-causing bacteria. However, another mantra is also true, and that’s the one of all things in moderation. If you add blackberries to every meal, you will see discoloration of your teeth almost immediately. Maybe add a few blackberries to your diet every week if you have tendency to develop cavities or are currently treating periodontal disease. Add one glass of wine or glass of black tea to your daily diet, unless you’re already a steady wine or tea drinker. Don’t over-consume any of these; remember to moderate.

The blackberry research study will be published in the February issue of the Journal of Periodontal Research.

Periodontal Disease Increases Risk for Pancreatic Cancer

pancreas Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.netGuess what…research has found yet another serious health link with periodontal disease–this time it’s a link to pancreatic cancer, one of the most fatal and painful cancers. More specifically, research has found that there is a mechanism that links the oral bacteria that cause gum disease and pancreatic cancer.

People with high levels of antibodies that fight against oral bacteria indeed have a higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. On the flip side, those with high levels of a specific, harmless oral bacteria may indicate a REDUCED risk of ever developing pancreatic cancer.

Researchers from Brown University measured the levels of antibodies to 25 different pathogenic (disease-causing) oral bacteria from over 400 patients with pancreatic cancer and over 400 participants without pancreatic cancer. The results shows that those who had high levels of antibodies against the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria known to cause some forms of periodontal disease, were twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer than those with lower levels.

The team also studied the association of pancreatic cancer with nonpathogenic oral bacteria, and they found that those who had higher levels of antibodies to these bacteria had a 45% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer than those with lower levels of these antibodies. As a result, they theorize that these levels of antibodies may indicate an innate yet highly active immune response that fights against cancer.

“The impact of immune defense against pathogenic bacteria undeniably plays a role,” said Jacques Izard from the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the collaborating institution of the study. “We need to further investigate the importance of bacteria in pancreatic cancer beyond the associated risk.”

Pancreatic cancer is extremely lethal and extremely difficult to detect. Most patients die from the disease within six months of diagnosis. All the more reason to continue your own personal oral health battle against gum disease, right?

The study was published online on Sept. 18 in the Gut journal before it was published in print.