Oral Bacteria and Immune Response

For years, oral health problems were thought to exist on their own, affecting the teeth, gums and, in severe cases, jawbones, but never encroaching on the rest of the body. But in recent years, research into periodontal disease pathogenesis has proven otherwise, and today we know the bacteria that cause gum disease can and do spread throughout the body, triggering widespread chronic inflammation and contributing to a host of serious medical conditions and diseases.

Periodontal Disease and the Immune System

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response, so it’s no surprise that the inflammation caused by gum disease-causing bacteria can wreak havoc with the immune system. But it also acts in an opposite manner, disarming or even hijacking the immune system or specific portions of it. In one study from the University of Pennsylvania, researchers demonstrated how the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis plays the role of “double agent,” preventing immune cells from destroying it and other pathogens while still allowing the cells to promote inflammation. The study built on results of earlier research that showed how P. gingivalis, an especially virulent oral pathogen, was able to “force” white blood cells to act as carriers of the bacteria.

Even more alarmingly, a study published in the Archives of Oral Biology found P. gingivalis doesn’t act alone; in many cases, another oral pathogen, Fusobacterium nucleatum, lays the groundwork for more severe infection, making it easier for P. gingivalis and other oral pathogens to invade host cells. Together, F. nucleatum and other oral pathogens act as a “wolf pack,” working together to hunt down and invade host cells, alter the immune response system and cause widespread inflammation that not only increases the risk of diseases but also makes existing diseases worse.

Oral DNA Testing for a Healthier Immune System

So what does all this mean? Your immune system is essential for fighting off both acute and chronic diseases. When it becomes compromised, your risk of disease can increase dramatically. We all know eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and exercise, and reducing stress are important for maintaining optimal immunity. But now we also know it’s important to manage oral populations of dangerous bacteria. And oral DNA testing is the first step.

Oral DNA testing uses a small sample of your saliva to identify oral pathogens that can be present even before gum disease causes major recognizable symptoms like bleeding gums or loose teeth. The test is quick and noninvasive, and we perform it right in our office. Once an analysis is complete, we review your results, so you understand your potential health risks, and we work with you to develop an individualized treatment program tailored to your needs.

Take the next step toward a healthier immune system ― and better overall health. Call our office at 
212-564-6686 and schedule your oral DNA test today.

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