Can the Oral Microbiome indicate Periodontal Disease State?

Background: In 2012 periodontal disease affected 46% of adults in the United States, with 8.9% classified as severe (Eke et al. 2015). Before everyone starts freaking out and drinking mouthwash, let’s talk about periodontal disease. Periodontal disease means gum disease, anything from simple gum inflammation, all the way to the loss of bone and the teeth falling out (“Periodontal Gum Disease’, 2013). Below I included a figure to show the progression of the disease.

Progression of periodontal disease, starts with inflamed gums, gums recede, then bone recedes from the tooth as well.
Normal progression of periodontal disease from healthy to severe periodontitis (Gromadzki)

This disease is caused by microbes in  the dental plaque migrating into the gum pockets causing inflammation, which will cause the gum to recede and with it the connective tissue holding in the tooth (Teles et al. 2013). Since periodontal disease is caused by microbes, it would not be surprising if there were differences between the community of microbes living in the mouths of healthy individuals, and those with periodontal disease. For the purpose of this discussion the oral microbiome is referring to the community of bacteria in the mouth of an individual. In fact, with the use of next-gen sequencing of the oral microbiome, it may be possible to determine differences between the mircobiomes of healthy and diseased individuals. A 2012 study found that community diversity is higher in individuals with chronic periodontal disease, but the results were complicated with 123 species were more abundant in diseased individuals and with 53 species were more abundant in healthy individuals (Griffen et al. 2012). Continue reading “Can the Oral Microbiome indicate Periodontal Disease State?”