Periodontitis, or gum disease, causes excessive gum bleeding and bone loss, which eventually leads to tooth loss. In fact, periodontitis is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the US. The swelling and bleeding associated with gum disease is caused by an over-active immune response to the bacteria in your mouth. As we grow older, we become more susceptible to inflammatory diseases, including gum disease. Your Corona dentists explore new research from Queen Mary, University of London that may explain why gum disease is more common with old age.
The Immune System Controller
When your body detects infection, your immune system immediately reacts to combat the infection. White blood cells are your immune system’s agents in this battle and a common sign that your body is fighting infection is inflammation. When harmful bacteria colonies increase in number in your mouth, your body responds by sending white blood cells in response to the threat, and your gums often become inflamed while your immune system goes to work. The University of London study revealed that gum health deterioration is associated with a drop in the levels of a chemical called Del-1. The purpose of this protein is to restrain the immune system by preventing white blood cells from attacking the mouth (thus reducing inflammation).
To study the relationship between low Del-1 levels and the formation of gum disease, researchers investigated young and old mice with gum disease. The research revealed that increases in gum disease in older mice were accompanied by a drop in Del-1 levels. Mice that had no Del-1 experienced severe gum disease and bone loss and exhibited increased levels of white blood cells in their gum tissue. By treating the mice with Del-1, the researchers reduced gum disease and bone loss.
The discovery of this protein and its link to gum disease development can prove invaluable in the quest to perfect treatments and prevention of gum disease. Until a preventive treatment is developed, however, you should continue to maintain your oral health by visiting your dentist at least twice a year to keep infection and disease in check.
To schedule a consultation, checkup, and cleaning, call Dental Associates of Corona today at 951-273-9580.