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Researchers uncover secrets of gum disease
Updated: 4/17/2012 7:00:01 PM

Researchers uncover secrets of gum disease  

Everyone should have a stringent oral health routine, but it is particularly important for elderly people to take care of their teeth. That's because as people age, their risk of gum disease increases. Recently, researchers from Queen Mary University shed light on why gums tend to deteriorate as people get older.

According to the scientists, the age-related deterioration in gum health associated with a drop in the level of a protein called Del- 1. The researchers are hoping that this finding could lead to a better understanding of how this chemical affects the immune system and better treatments for gum disease.

"Periodontitis [gum disease] is an extremely common problem and we know that the disease tends to be more common as we get older. This research sheds some light on why aging makes us more susceptible and understanding this mechanism is the first step to an effective treatment," said researcher Mike Curtis.

The researchers studied young and old mice and found that an increase in gum disease was typically accompanied by a drop in the level of Del-1. This protein keeps white blood cells from sticking to and attacking mouth tissue. 

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