Oral Infections, Chapter Nine20 years, 3 months ago
Posted on Nov 06, 2003, 2 p.m.
By Bill Freeman
Several studies have linked gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease, and now a recent study in mice has given scientists a further insight into how chronic infection
Gum-Disease Bacterium Linked to Artery-Clogging Plaques
Several studies have linked gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease, and now a recent study in mice has given scientists a further insight into how chronic infection might contribute to arterial disease. Dr Li Li and colleagues discovered that mice infected with the gum disease-causing bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis developed significantly larger artery-clogging plaques than non-infected mice. However, the infected mice only developed larger plaques if they were fed on a high-fat diet, or were genetically susceptible to heart disease. Thus, suggesting that the bacterium does not contribute to atherosclerosis on its own, but instead "conspires" with other risk factors to accelerate the progression of the disease.
SOURCE/REFERENCE: Circulation 2002; 105:861-867
GM Mouthwash May Kiss Goodbye to Tooth Decay
Dental caries could soon be resigned to history as scientists say they have developed a genetically modified (GM) mouthwash that prevents tooth decay. Delegates at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston were told that the mouthwash alters the decay causing bacterium Streptococcus mutans into a form that does not produce enamel-attacking lactic acid. According to Professor Jeffrey Hillman, the man behind the mouthwash, one 5-minute treatment with the wash should last a lifetime. The procedure is expected to cost less than $150. Trials of the mouthwash on animals showed that it prevented tooth decay even when the animals were fed a high-sugar diet. Human trials of the GM mouthwash are expected to begin in both the US and the UK by the end of 2002.
SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by www.bbc.co.uk on the 17th February 2002
Infected Gums Can Release Toxins into the Bloodstream
Researchers have found that infected gums can release bacterial poisons called endotoxins into the bloodstream. According to lead study author Dr. Eric H. Rompen, of the University of Liege in Belgium, "The mouth can be a major source of chronic or permanent release of toxic bacterial components in the bloodstream during normal oral functions." Rompen and his colleagues found that people with severe gum disease were nearly four-times more likely than people with healthy gums to have significant levels of endotoxins in their bloodstream after chewing gum. He believes that his findings may help to explain the apparent link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease.
SOURCE/REFERENCE: Journal of Periodontology 2002; 73:73-78
Substance Produced by Bees Found to Be Potent Anti-Cavity Agent
Propolis - a sticky substance manufactured by honeybees to protect their hives, could act as a potent anti-cavity agent, say dentists from the University of Rochester Medical Center. Tests on rats revealed that the substance cut cavity rates in rats by as much as 60%, and virtually halted the production of an enzyme that plays a vital role in the formation of dental plaque. As rats develop cavities in the same way as humans, the team are confident that propolis could help to prevent dental caries in people. Research showed that propolis inhibits the production of glucosyltransferase (GTF) enzymes, which create a so-called biofilm than encourages bacteria to stick to the surface of teeth, by as much as 95% in a test-tube and 60-70% on tooth-like materials. Following on from the success of the animal tests, the team are now hoping to carry out human studies.
SOURCE/REFERENCE: Reported by the University of Rochester Medical Centre on the 29th August 2001