September 28, 2009

Black men react to dental plaque

U.S. researchers say the body's immune response to dental plaque varies by race and by gender.

The study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, found differences in response to dental plaque in 128 black and white healthy subjects of both genders who had shown no evidence of periodontal disease but were asked to forego brushing their teeth.

The research team, led by Michael Kowolik of the Indiana University School of Dentistry on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, found black males -- but not black women or whites of either sex -- had a significant increase in the activity of a common type of white blood cell called neutrophils.

If you get a bacterial infection anywhere in the body, billions of neutrophils come flooding out of your bone marrow to defend against the intruder, Kowolik says in a statement. This finding could help us identify individuals at greater risk for infections anywhere in the body including those affecting the heart.