Putnam Dental Aug 2017


Treating gum disease can be a tricky process. While prevention and deep cleaning are often effective ways to avoid extreme cases of periodontal disease, things get more complicated once tartar begins to work its way into the deep structures of the gums. But new technologies enable periodontists to pinpoint the cause of gum disease and eliminate it at the source. Periodontal disease arises as swarms of bacteria begin to eat away at the gums. Over 350 discrete species of bacteria participate in the deterioration of human gums, and each of them is utterly unique. Each of these microscopic species carries its own distinct genetic blueprint embedded within its DNA. If you’ve ever seen a picture of DNA, you know that it is composed of two separate, twisting strands, connected by a series of “ladder rungs.” These rungs are made up of two separate nitrogen bases, bonded together at the center. Each base only connects

to a specific other base — adenine pairs with thymine, and cytosine pairs with guanine. Though the way in which these bases bond is particular, the order in which each pair appears as you move down the “ladder” has an infinite number of permutations. When we investigate this arrangement within the cells of a particular organism, we learn its unique genetic blueprint. Periodontists are now able to extract a sample of the bacteria afflicting your gums with a cotton swab of saliva. Then, the sample is sent to a lab and run through a DNA analysis. The results of the test detail the specific strains of bacteria that are present in the gums, giving the periodontist a much clearer picture of the problem. The first step in combatting the enemy under our gums is to know what we’re up against, and DNA testing enables us to do just that.


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