Saliva markers diagnose gum disease

Diagnosing gum disease (periodontal disease) early could be as simple as spitting in a pot and could save discomfort, bleeding gums, and even tooth and bone loss for the 45% of American adults over 50 who develop problems.

As gum disease advances it becomes obvious, but in its early days, before it causes permanent damage, it's harder to spot, and this is when it could be treated. Salimetrics is developing a panel of salivary assays for biomarkers for inflammation, including IL-1β, IL-6, and MMP-8, and dental researchers at the University of Kentucky have assessed its effectiveness.

According to the researchers, the panel discriminated between healthy patients and patients with gum disease. However, the study is very small; it only looked at 50 patients with periodontal disease and 30 healthy controls. Because of this it will need to be repeated in larger studies, including prospective studies, and studies looking at less severe forms of disease such as gingivitis.

Treating gum disease early is good for healthcare providers as it cuts the costs of treatment. It's also good for patients because it stops tooth loss and the discomfort, embarrassment and inconvenience that goes alongside. More than this, it could also cut the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which have been linked with periodontal disease.

- read the press release

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