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Mouse study explains bacterium's unique role in periodontitis

from National Institutes of Health

Scientists say they have solved in mice the mystery of how an unusual bacterium can trigger the common dental condition periodontitis while residing in low numbers in the space between tooth and gum. The researchers report that the microbe Porphyromonas gingivalis hacks into the front-line immune cells that police the space between tooth and gum, known as the subgingival crevice, and reprograms them to create living conditions more to its microbial liking. As more immune cells are co-opted to follow the wrong program, the usually benign bacterial residents of the subgingival crevice — not P. gingivalis, as long suspected — opportunistically rise up in number, altering their community dynamics and prompting them to infect the tooth's supportive structures, or periodontium. more

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