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The Building Blocks of Dental Diseases

Jun 19, 2014

By Felicia Papier

How many things in your life can you name that rely on some other factor that you don’t even think about?  Think chemically.  What about the two hydrogen and one oxygen that make up water?  That’s a pretty important relationship.  If you look inside your own body, you’ll find there are even more chemical relationships affecting your health that you didn’t even know existed.  Chemical reactions and relationships are the building blocks of your body – right down to your teeth!

Unfortunately these chemical relationships can sometimes cause more harm than good.  Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that when our “good” bacterial populations become imbalanced, illness occurs.  One example is Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.

With the invasion of the bacteria, the immune system is harmed two-fold.  The bacterium blocks the immune cells ability to kill it off and then it preserves the bacterium’s ability to create inflammation.  This combination causes unknowing bystanders, like gum bacteria, to stick around leading to bone loss and inflammation which we know as periodontitis.  In conjunction with all of this, the bacterium produced by the inflammation feeds the rest of the microbial community exacerbating the gum disease. 

The researchers, headed by George Hajishengallis, identified P. gingivalis as the culprit and one of many cornerstone bacteria.  They likened this bacterium to a grizzly bear due because of the influence this animal has over other species in their community.  There aren’t many grizzlies, but when they attack, the ramifications are great.  It’s the same with the P. gingivalis bacteria – there are few molecules in a human’s mouth, but when instigated by other molecules, gum disease prevails. 

"Scientists are beginning to suspect that keystone pathogens might be playing a role in irritable bowel disease, colon cancer and other inflammatory diseases," Hajishengallis said. "They're bugs that can't mediate the disease on their own; they need other, normally non-pathogenic bacteria to cause the inflammation."

P. gingivalis has also been identified as “problem child” that operates to subvert the immune system in more than one way.  It causes bacterial cells to combine that normally would not do so and leads to the degradation of proteins like MyD88 which clear infection.  The infection is then fostered within the body causing more illness.

The research team is hopeful that the discovery of microbial imbalances (dysbiosis) will aid in the treatment for not only periodontitis but other diseases that form in this manner.

If you suffer from periodontitis, keeping regular dental appointments is very important.  Let us help you find the right dental plan for your needs at  We can give you something to smile about! 

Sources: medicalnewstoday, photo source

Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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