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Erlanger Dentist: Gum Bacteria Manipulate the Immune System

February 21, 2013

bacteria ErlangerDid you know that over 50 percent of adults age 50 and older develop some form of gum disease? Once a person develops gum disease, it could progress into a more severe form that results in the decay of teeth-supporting tissues and ligaments, which in turn, could lead to tooth loss. But what do you think of when you hear the words “gum disease”? Many people automatically think of gingivitis. If you know your Greek and Latin, you’ll know that gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. Itis is a Greek suffix meaning inflammation, and gingiva, is the Latin word for gum. However, inflammation of the gums doesn’t sound so bad, a bit like a rash for your mouth. Surely it will just go away on its own, right? Perhaps not. Recent research shows that the bacterium responsible for gingivitis actually inhibits the immune system from fighting against it. Your Erlanger dentist, Dr. Darlene Sand Wall, discusses this research and the bacterium known as porphyromonas gingivalis.

Porphyromonas Gingivalis and the Immune System

When porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacterium responsible for gingivitis, enters the body, it triggers the production of an anti-inflammatory molecule called IL-10. This molecule interferes with T-cells, the cells responsible for fighting bacteria. Because it has these effects, gingivitis can often progress to a more damaging form of gum disease and eventually lead to tooth loss if it is not treated.

Preventive Care Against Gingivitis

Gingivitis is typically caused by the presence of bacteria on a tooth near the gum line. To defend against these bacteria, homecare and regular dental visits are important. Brush your teeth twice a day, angling the bristles of the toothbrush down toward the gum line, and floss once a day. Also, visit your Erlanger dentist, Dr. Sand Wall every six months for checkups and cleanings.

Schedule an Appointment with Your Erlanger Dentist

Professional cleanings can remove stubborn plaque and tartar and keep teeth healthy. If it’s been more than six months since your last dental visit, schedule an appointment with your Erlanger dentist, by calling our 41018 dentist office at 859-344-8500. We serve patients from Erlanger, Cincinnati, Crestview Hills, Fort Mitchell, Florence, Union, Independence, and Taylor Mill.

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