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Detecting Gum Disease Earlier: Collegeville Periodontist Discusses New Research

  • August 29, 2014

When about 65 million people suffer from some form of a particular disease, you can expect researchers are on the hunt for better ways of detecting, treating and preventing it.

Such is the case with periodontal disease. Inspired by cancer biologists, Dr. Panos Papapanou, director of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Periodontics Division, and a Columbia University School of Dental Medicine research team are seeking a way to classify periodontal disease based on the gene expression of the affected gum tissue. They’re making progress, and we’re watching that progress closely.

In the past, if you were diagnosed with gum disease, it was designated either as aggressive or chronic based on the symptoms. The problem with this is that some aggressive cases respond better to treatment than chronic cases. It’s impossible to determine whether gum disease truly is aggressive until significant, irreversible damage has taken place, according to a Science Daily article.

But Dr. Papapanou’s research showed patients fit into one of two clusters, based on their gene expression signatures.

“We found more severe disease in one of the two clusters,” said Papapanou in an interview with TWC News in New York. “We found colonization by specific bacteria that have been associated with more severe forms of disease to be more pronounced.”

Those who fell into this second, more severe cluster tended to be male, which is in keeping with what we already know: severe gum disease is more prevalent in men than in women.

Collegeville periodontist Dr. David DiGiallorenzo says he believes the research being conducted by Dr. Papapanou and his team means we are well on our way to being able to identify periodontal disease before it causes irreversible damage. This gets us closer to helping ensure our patients keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.

“These are exciting findings,” Dr. DiGiallorenzo says. “Having a better idea of the type of gum disease so we can provide appropriate treatment not only will keep mouths healthier, but our bodies healthier, too.”

We have written extensively on this blog about the oral health/systemic health connection. We will keep you posted as we learn more about this important topic.

To schedule your periodontal health appointment with Dr. DiGiallorenzo, we invite you to contact us in Collegeville, PA and Williamsport, PA. Our state-of-the-art dental and wellness facility also proudly serves patients from the surrounding areas of Pottstown, Sunbury, Bloomberg, Lock Haven, and more.