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J Periodontol. 1997 May;68(5):421-31.

Bacterial transmission in periodontal diseases: a critical review.

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Department of Periodontology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, USA.


This review paper addresses intra- and extra-familial transfer of bacteria associated with periodontal diseases. Recent advances in molecular biology provide sensitive methods to differentiate organisms within the same species, thereby facilitating tracking routes of their transmission. Evidence for the passing of microorganisms between parents and children is particularly strong. In this regard, molecular genetic techniques have demonstrated that if a child is colonized by a potentially pathogenic species, then one of the parents will usually harbor genotypically identical bacteria. The data also indicate that transfer of bacteria between spouses occur, but it appears to happen infrequently. Saliva appears to be a major vector for bacterial transmission. However, the transfer of organisms does not necessarily result in colonization or infection of the host. Furthermore, individuals who harbor putative pathogens frequently do not manifest any signs of periodontal disease. This is attributed to host defenses, bacterial antagonism, and possibly lack of pathogenicity of infecting organisms. It is concluded, based upon current evidence, that periodontal pathogens are communicable; however, they are not readily transmissible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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