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News / February 17, 2012

Isolating plaque culprit could spell relief for gum disease

by Guy Hiscott

The mechanism that oral bacteria use to form communities in the mouth has been identified, leading to hopes that plaque could one day be prevented by medication.
Researchers from the University of Bristol hope that stripping some pathogenic mouth bacteria of the ‘access key’ they use to form communities with other strains could help prevent gum disease and tooth loss in the future.
A study carried out at the University of Bristol discovered that a molecule, called CTLP, on the surface of the oral bacteria Treponema denticola lets it latch on to other pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. Once this happens, the joined bacteria work together to produce plaque, inhibit blood clotting and destroy gum tissue.
Professor Howard Jenkinson, who led the study, said: ‘Inhibiting CTLP would deny Treponema access to the bacterial communities responsible for dental plaque, which in turn would reduce bleeding gums and slow down the onset of periodontal disease and tooth loss.’
The news, published in Microbiology, suggests that drug treatments could be possible in future for patients at high risk of developing gum disease.
The team is now working on finding a compound that will inhibit the process.