Why Our Gums Deteriorate With Age

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Age can be unkind, especially if we don’t maintain good health, and our gums are one of the common casualties. But why, exactly do they deteriorate? New research from Queen Mary, University of London, points specifically to a protein known as Del-1.

During a study, published in Nature Immunology, when mice had less Del-1, they were more likely to have an increase in gum disease. Del-1 is a protein that is believed to regulate white blood cells and control excessive inflammation.

The mice that had none of the protein not only experienced severe gum disease, but also had far more white blood cells and more bone loss as well.

Because Del-1 levels decrease with age, inflammation grows, leading to gum disease and a host of other inflammation-related illnesses. “Periodontitis [gum disease] is an extremely common problem and we know that the disease tends to be more common as we get older,” the researchers said. “This research sheds some light on why aging makes us more susceptible and understanding this mechanism is the first step to an effective treatment.”

Now that they have pin-pointed a pivotal protein in the development of gum disease, the next step is to create treatments that may prevent it, researchers added.

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