Periodontitis or gum disease can happen to anybody. Often, the symptoms go undetected long after considerable damage to the teeth and gums has occurred. As such, a trusted Philadelphia dentist like Dr. Gerald Regni emphasizes the importance of good oral hygiene habits and regular dental visits in keeping gum disease at bay.
Some people, however, have a genetic predisposition for gum loss. Luckily, a joint study by the School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health sheds light on how the effects of leukocyte adhesion deficiency (LAD) on the gums may be reversed. Medical News Today reports that these findings challenge previous explanations about how oral bacteria behave within LAD patients:
"New research by University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine researchers, teaming with investigators from the National Institutes of Health, has demonstrated a method of reversing this bone loss and inflammation.Reversing Gum Loss
Researchers used to believe that LAD patients developed severe periodontitis because of this inability of neutrophils to cross from the bloodstream into gum tissue. Bacteria, therefore, were believed to thrive unchecked in the gums.
The new study challenges this assumption."
Although rare (less than 350 cases as of 2009), LAD is as dangerous as it sounds. This immunodeficiency disorder renders white blood cells unable to produce a protein called CD18, which takes a white blood cell to the site of an infection posthaste. In this case, according to UPenn microbiologist George Hajishengallis, the white blood cells often get to the wrong site.
Hajishengallis, who led the study, said that a malfunctioning immune system isn’t necessarily the culprit. Rather, the process of reversing gum loss relies on blocking two genetic proteins—IL-17 and IL-23—that are usually abundant among LAD patients. These interleukins (IL) alert the immune system about an infection and cause inflammation in the affected area, which can lead to bone degradation. With no white blood cells in the area to combat the inflammation, blocking these proteins becomes more essential.
Implications for Dentistry
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of American adults have gum disease; almost a third of them have moderate periodontitis. The relationship between inflammation of the gums and genetics is, therefore, anything but moot. Periodontitis, for starters, paints a bigger picture of a person's overall health, much like teeth.
Diagnosing LAD may be difficult, but this breakthrough may soon lead to the development of medication designed to control LAD-related infection. Fortunately, the concept for such medication isn't entirely new as it has been used to control or treat other diseases like psoriasis. Regardless of genetic makeup, patients would do well to visit a reputable dentist in Philadelphia like Dr. Gerald Regni for emergency periodontal treatments as well as quality holistic oral care using safe and natural means.
(Source: Bone loss and inflammation reversed in immune disorder by dental team, Medical News Today, March 28, 2014)