Bacterium Causing Gum Disease Places Jaw Bone at Greater Risk

According to lead author of the study, Yizu Jiao, finding the cause of periodontitis is a significant discovery. Jiao and Nahiro Inohara worked with professor of dentistry, William Ginnablile, to uncover the truth about periodontitis. Their work is published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe.

The study revealed yet another important discovery; the bacterium responsible for gum disease, known as NI1060, also causes a normally protective protein in the mouth, known as Nod1, to turn on the body and create bone-destroying cells. Under normal conditions, this protein protects the body from harmful bacterium.

Inohara claims that Nod1 is a natural part of our body’s protection against bacterial infection. It can aid in warding off infection by recruiting neutrophils, blood cells that specialize in killing bacteria. It also removes harmful bacteria in the case of an infection. However, for occurrences of periodontitis, the accumulation of the NI1060 bacterium triggers Nod1 to activate neutrophils and osteoclasts, which are cells that actively destroy bone in the mouth.

Giannobile believe that understanding how gum disease works at the molecular level could lead the development of personalized treatments for individuals suffering from gum disease. He believes this study emphasizes the link between beneficial and destructive bacteria that normally resides in the mouth, how harmful bacterium can trigger disease, and how at-risk patient might respond to the presence of such bacteria.