Gum Disease, Oral Bone Loss Linked in Women

Women infected with bacteria known to cause periodontal disease were more likely to have more severe oral bone loss were than women who were not infected with these oral pathogens, say researchers in a recent issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

Epidemiologists at the State University of New York at Buffalo conducted a cross-sectional study of oral health and osteoporosis in 1,256 postmenopausal women recruited from the Buffalo, N.Y., Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Subjects completed questionnaires, had physical measurements taken, underwent bone-density testing and received an oral health examination.

Researchers, led by Renee Brennan, PhD, assessed the presence of eight bacterial species by using indirect immunofluorescent microscopy in each subject. They found that the most prevalent pathogen infecting subjects was Streptococcus sanguis, followed by Prevotella intermedia, Tannerella forsythensis, Capnocytophaga species, Eubacterium saburreum, Campylobacter rectus, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum.

They also found that being infected with P. gingivalis, T. forsythensis, P. intermedia and C. rectus was associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing oral bone loss as measured by alveolar crestal height, even after adjusting for age, smoking and income.

In addition, women infected with T. forsythensis who were overweight were more likely to have oral bone loss than were women infected with T. forsythensis who were normal weight or obese.

Dr. Brennan said the findings will help develop a more complete understanding of the mechanisms involved in periodontal disease, and that researchers need to explore further the impact of weight on the associations of oral bacteria and oral bone loss.

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