Researchers at the State University of New York at the Buffalo School of Dental Medicine have found out that variation in the gene for fibrinogen, a protein useful in blood clotting may increase the risk of severe gum disease.
Compared to people with healthy gums, those with gum disease carry certain gene variations linked to high levels of fibrinogen, according to the study.
79 people with gum disease and a "control" group of 75 people with healthy gums were screened for two variations of fibrinogen genes that increase levels of the protein. Fifty-one percent of people with gum disease had one or both gene variations, compared with 30% of the control group.
The findings, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Dental Research, show that the risk of developing severe gum disease rose from two to six times in people with the gene variation when compared to the normal population.
High levels of fibrinogen are known to increase the risk of heart disease by making it easier for blood clots to form. High levels of the protein can increase inflammation, and perhaps the risk of gum disease, in several ways, according to the researchers.
Not only does the protein provide the structure to which inflammatory cells attach, but it also affects immune responses. In addition, fibrinogen facilitates the growth and invasion of bacteria.
The study concludes its findings by advising the people with this gene variation to be more careful with their dental hygiene and to visit the dentist more often.