Study reveals new aspects of gingivitis and body’s response
A team led by University of Washington researchers has identified and classified how different people respond to the accumulation of dental plaque. Their work, recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), sheds new light on why some people may be more prone to serious conditions that lead to tooth loss and other problems.
Left unchecked, plaque build-up can induce gingivitis (gum disease). Gingivitis, in turn, can lead to periodontitis, a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and can destroy the bone that supports teeth. Not only can this result in tooth loss, but chronic inflammation can also spur other serious health consequences.
The researchers also found a previously unidentified range of inflammatory responses to bacterial accumulation in the mouth. When bacteria build-up on tooth surfaces, they generate inflammation. Previously, there were two known major oral inflammation phenotypes, or individual traits: a high clinical response; and, a low clinical response. The team identified a third phenotype, which they called ‘slow’: a delayed strong inflammatory response in the wake of the bacterial build-up.
The study revealed for the first time that subjects with low clinical response also demonstrated a low inflammatory response for a wide variety of inflammation signals. The study authors wrote that understanding the variations in gum inflammation could help better identify people at elevated risk of periodontitis. It is possible that this variation in the inflammatory response among the human population may be related to susceptibility to other chronic bacterial-associated inflammatory conditions.