Researchers have identified a genetic marker that may increase a person's risk of developing severe periodontal disease by as much as six-fold, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.
A research team at Medical Science Systems Inc., a Newport Beach-based biotechnology company, discovered that as much as one-third of the U.S. population may carry the marker, which is associated with increased gum inflammation.
Periodontal diseases result from a bacterial infection of gums and bone surrounding the teeth. Once these bacteria take hold, the body releases a series of chemicals to fight them. This reaction, called an inflammatory response, can result in red and swollen gums, easy bleeding while brushing teeth or flossing, bone loss and many other symptoms.
If too many of these chemicals are released, the inflammation can be severe, resulting in advanced loss of gum and bone structure and increased risk of tooth loss.
The study identified patients who, when infected with the disease-causing bacteria, are at risk of releasing too many of these chemicals. Researchers reported the genotype identified in the study occurred in 29.1% of northern European Caucasian subjects of unknown periodontal disease status and no other known medical conditions. It is anticipated that preliminary data from other ethnic populations will yield similar results.
"This is the first time a genetic factor has been identified for a common disease that affects such a large segment of the population," said Kenneth Kornman, D.D.S., Ph.D., lead researcher who discussed his team's findings in Dentistry Today. "This information is also one of the first times a genetic test has the potential to be used as a preventive measure to identify people before they show signs of the disease and get them in for early preventive treatment."
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