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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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions For ADULTS 55+

  • Gum disease
    This potentially serious condition occurs when the gum tissues surrounding teeth become infected because of a buildup of plaque on the teeth and gums. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is recognizable by swollen, red or bleeding gums. Gum disease is a concern for older adults for a number of reasons, including plaque building up on teeth and gums from not developing proper oral health care habits earlier in life.

  • Tooth or root decay
    Even at 55-plus years, adults can still develop tooth or root decay if gum recession has occurred. It is important for older adults to effectively clean the gums, the teeth and exposed root surfaces to remove dental plaque and food debris.

  • Sensitive teeth
    At some point, we've all tossed back a nice, cold glass of water only to grimace at that sharp, tingling sensation in our teeth. A number of factors cause tooth sensitivity, including brushing too aggressively with a hard-bristled toothbrush, worn tooth enamel, and a cracked or fractured tooth.