An unhealthy population of microbes in the mouth triggers specialized immune cells that inflame and destroy tissues, leading to the type of bone loss associated with a severe form of gum disease, according to a new study in mice and humans. The research, led by scientists from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Philadelphia, could have implications for new treatment approaches for the condition. The findings appear online Oct. 17, 2018, in Science Translational Medicine.
Periodontal disease is a common disorder that affects nearly half of American adults over age 30, and 70 percent of adults 65 and older. In those affected, bacteria trigger inflammation of the tissues that surround the teeth, which can lead to loss of bone and teeth in an advanced stage of the disease called periodontitis.