Gum diseases are the primary cause of tooth loss in adults, but now scientists have found a little-known mouth fluid that may allow them to develop an early, non-invasive tests for the diseases.
The fluid, called gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), is not saliva, but produced in tiny amounts in the gums produced at the rate of millionths of a quart per tooth.
GCF has become a prime candidate for a simple inexpensive test to distinguish mild gum disease from the serious form that leads to tooth loss.
Eric Reynolds and colleagues note that GCF accumulates at sites of inflammation in the crevice between teeth and gums. But they are unaware of the chemical composition of the fluid.
The scientists collected GCF samples from 12 patients with a history of gum disease. Using high-tech instruments, they identified 66 proteins, 43 of which they found in the fluid for the first time.
The fluid contained proteins from several sources, including bacteria and the breakdown products of gum tissue and bone, they note. They also identified antibacterial substances involved in fighting infection but said that further tests would have to be developed in order to find out more.
The study, the most comprehensive analysis of GCF to date, appears in ACS” monthly Journal of Proteome Research.