- NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
- People with gum disease are more likely than those with healthy gums
to be infected with Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that cause stomach
ulcers, researchers report.
- The finding could shed light on how the bacteria are
spread from person to person, a mode of transmission that is still a bit
of a mystery. While about one third of the US population--and even higher
percentages of the population in other countries--is infected with the
H. pylori, how the bacteria spread is unknown.
- In the new study, researchers found that those with deep
gum "pockets"--the gap between tooth and gum that gets larger
when gums are diseased--were 50% more likely to have H. pylori than those
with less extensive pockets.
- Overall, 41% of those with pockets 5 millimeters or deeper
between gum and teeth were infected with H. pylori. In comparison, only
25% of the entire study group of 4,504 participants was infected with the
ulcer-causing bacterium, according to a report published in the November
issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the journal of the American
Public Health Association.
- The researchers measured infection by testing for blood
antibodies to H. pylori, a sign of past or current infection. In a past
study, researchers who directly tested samples from gum disease-related
pockets found that 33% contained H. pylori.
- This is the first large US study to demonstrate an association
between the presence of H. pylori and a specific characteristic of periodontal
disease, according to lead author Dr. Bruce A. Dye of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.
- "Although the idea that the oral cavity is a potential
site for H. pylori gastric reinfection has been proposed before, our findings
indicate that only moderate to severe periodontal pockets may be associated
with H. pylori infection," the authors conclude.
- About 9% of people in the US aged 30 to 90 have pockets
between tooth and gum that measure 5 millimeters or greater in depth, according
to the report.
- The researchers are calling for further studies on the
- SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health 2002;92:1809-1815.
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