Periodontist tracks rare gum disease in African-American youth

By - Bad Breath Expert

SUMMARY:  Dr.Daniel H. Fine has been tracking a rare form of periodontitis and its affect on children of African descent.

Posted: May 11, 2015

Dr. Daniel H. Fine, a periodontist at Rutgers University School of Dental Medicine, has been tracking localized aggressive periodontitis and how it appears to affect children of African descent. Since 2007, Fine and his team have tracked 2,500 Newark, New Jersey, children to see if they show any symptoms of the disease. 

In general, periodontitis is a disease that attacks and weakens the gums and results in loose teeth. This specific form of it appears to plague at least 2 percent of African-American youths between the ages of 11 and 17 and is believed to have a genetic bias.

"This is a health disparity issue that has an impact on members of the African-American community that can ill afford to lose teeth and suffer the consequences from either a psychological or sociological vantage point," said Fine to Rutgers Today

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Fine and his team with a $3.2 million grant to look into the causes of periodontitis and see if they can find any links that could lead to early prevention in the future. With the help of new saliva testing through rapid screening techniques and advancements in microbiology, Fine hopes that prevention will soon be as easy as having children visit the school nurse and spitting into a tube. 

"The nurse might be able to give them something right then and there so they can prevent the disease from occurring." said Fine to "That's our hope."

While studying this very specific form of periodontitis, which affects 700,000 children in the U.S., Fine also believes that the research can help identify more common forms of the disease, which can be found in nearly half of the U.S. citizens over the age of 30 and 65 percent of those who live below the poverty line. 

A culmination of 30 years of work

Fine, who is chair of the dental school's oral biology department and associate dean for research in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, has been working in the dental health field for three decades now and has come across many interesting discoveries while researching localized aggressive periodontitis. Namely, the discovery that children who have localized aggressive periodontitis are less prone to cavities than other children because they produce higher volumes of certain salivary proteins. 

Fine strives to be able to identify localized aggressive periodontitis far enough in advance in patients that no visible symptoms begin to appear. He feels that the time for advancements is now given the recent surge in technological advancements. 

"We've been studying this thing for the last 30 years," Fine said. "It's only in the last few years that the technology has blossomed."

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only.  Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.

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