Holiday time is approaching and the sugary snacks are popping out. Hello tooth decay, right? Well, turns out that may not be the biggest dental problem we need to watch out for. Periodontitis is one of the most common causes of tooth loss worldwide. An estimated 53 million American adults have the condition, approximately 2 out of every 10 adults, at a total annual healthcare expenditure of more than $14 billion.
Thing is, some new research is showing that the bacteria triggering periodontitis are behaving in amazingly complex and diabolical ways. We know those microscopic critters were pretty cunning. Now, a study is showing that bacteria taking up residence in the gum lining are working in deceptive ways never before observed. They’re almost as shrewd and vile as the Desperate Housewives.
Apparently, they work in two ways: they trick immune cells that are coming to wipe them out to attack other benign cells instead. And, they also alter immune cells in the tooth/gum gap so that a hospitable “living environment” is created, allowing the nasties to multiply nearly unabated. It’s truly brilliant.
So what about immune balance in all of this? My theory is that, in addition to always implementing proper dental care, a healthy, balanced immune system may, repeat MAY, limit the ability of that crafty bacterium to do its thing. Immune balance means suppressing immune response when appropriate to prevent health problems resulting from over-aggressive immune attacks that can actually harm healthy cells and tissues. It also means bringing on the antibody attackers when they are truly needed, seeking and destroying the bad guys with overwhelming force. Perhaps that aggressive end of immune balance would find those periodontal bacteria and work ‘em over before they can work their evil magic. Just a thought.