Gum disease is a condition that is very prevalent in our adult population today. In the beginning stages of its development, the disease does not cause pain or discomfort. However, if symptoms are ignored or not properly diagnosed, and patients do not see their dentist on a regular basis, many with the disease will not even know they have it.
With recent investigations focused on finding a more efficient treatment for gum disease, researchers have come to a better understanding of the oral bacteria mechanism that causes periodontitis (a severe form of gum disease).
The human body is comprised of 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. The bacterial cells are usually helpful, functioning to clean or control the overpopulation of harmful bacteria. However, when there is a disturbance in the balance of bacteria in the oral environment, periodontitis is present. This imbalance is called dysbiosis.
Porphyromonas gingivalis are one type of bacteria that causes dysbiosis. It is also a keystone pathogen, which are bacteria that can’t cause the disease by themselves, however they instigate other normally nonpathogenic bacteria to cause the inflammation.
P. gingivalis attacks immune cells – and it affects the immune system in 2 pathways.
- By promoting the degradation of a protein—MyD88—which normally clears infection.
- By activating an enzyme—P13K, which increases inflammation—affecting the immune cells’ ability to kill bacteria.
Bone loss and bleeding gums are the result of this attack.
This recent discovery opens new paths for the development of innovative treatments for Periodontitis, and also suggests a bacterial strategy that could be at play in other diseases involving dysbiosis, such as IBS, (irritable bowel syndrome), colon cancer, and more.
The good news is that periodontal treatment can give us a new protocol to address other bacterial diseases that develop within our bodies.
Dr. Estela DeCastecker
For more information regarding the long-term effects of gum disease or to schedule an appointment,
please call our Mentor, Ohio Dental Office today at 440-975-9855.