H. pylori now found in dental plaques

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


“Though my stomach is only the size of a pea, I could eat two politicians’ brains,” wrote Jarod Kintz in his book So Many Chairs, and No Time to Sit.

Perhaps too much eating can be blamed for the presence of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in more than 50 percent of people worldwide. Most ulcers—80 percent of stomach ulcers and 90 percent of ulcers in the duodenum (the upper end of the small intestine)—develop due to infection with these bacteria.

When Australian scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren identified in 1982 H. pylori, they found it in the stomach of patients with chronic gastritis and gastric ulcers. These two conditions had not been associated with any bacterial infection. Since then clinical studies have identified it as the direct cause of chronic gastritis, peptic ulcer, gastric cancer, and a mucosa-associated lymphoma.

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The most common symptoms include gnawing or burning abdominal pain, usually in the area beneath the ribs (peptic ulcer symptoms). This pain typically worsens on an empty stomach, and improves when you have eaten food, drank milk, or taken an antacid. Other symptoms may include weight loss, loss of appetite, bloating, burping, nausea, vomiting (at times with blood or ground-coffee-looking) and black, tarry stools.

In 1989, however, Krajden and eight colleagues identified the bacteria in saliva and dental plaque. In studies between 2002 and 2011, healthy individuals had been found 41.7 percent (India) with H. pylori in their dental plaques; 46.6 percent in Brazil.

Those with chronic periodontitis had 75 percent (Serbia) H. pylori in their dental plaques; 37.5 percent in Croatia. Those with chronic gastritis or peptic ulcer had 38 percent (Japan) H. pylori in their dental plaques. Those with dyspepsia had 73.7 percent (Taiwan) H. pylori in their dental plaques; 81.3 percent in Turkey. Patients with Type 2 diabetes and suffering periodontitis had 83 percent (Serbia) of H. pylori in their dental plaques.

Overall prevalence ranged from 66.7 percent in India to 90.7 percent in Turkey had H. pylori detected in their dental plaques.

The importance of knowing these comes from the fact that H. pylori can be transmitted through the oral-to-oral route. The rest of the routes include fecal-to-oral, through food and water, and through depressed normal flora resulting from medications.

Next time you are asked what causes most stomach ulcers, would the answer be stress, hyperacidity or spicy foods? Maybe of these. That could be Helicobacter pylori.

zim_breakthroughs@yahoo.com http://breakthroughs.today.blogspot.com

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2014.

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