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The University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine recently opened an orthodontic treatment clinic to address the needs of the racially and ethnically diverse population of Southern Nevada, primarily focusing on the treatment and care of low-income and minority patients. Although orthodontic treatment and therapy has been shown to induce changes in the oral cavity, much of this evidence was collected from traditional White, teenage orthodontic clinic populations. The primary goal of this study was to describe the microbial burden of the cariogenic and periodontal pathogens, Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis within the UNLV-SDM patient population.
Representative saliva samples were collected from healthy adult patients for DNA isolation. Relative endpoint polymerase chain reaction (RE-PCR) was performed to ascertain the presence and relative microbial burden of these oral pathogens.
Nearly one quarter (13/56) or 23.3% of these patients had elevated levels of S. mutans, while (10/56) and 17.8% of these samples were found to have elevated levels of P. gingivalis, - with (90%) of P. gingivalis-positive samples from minority patients (X2=17.921, d.f. = 1; p<0.0001).
These findings of elevated P. gingivalis levels, primarily among minority patients, may suggest underlying oral health practices contributing to adverse oral health conditions within this population. Oral health knowledge and practices among minority patients may be strongly influenced by other factors, including education and socioeconomic status, suggesting additional research may be needed to accurately determine the most appropriate standards for care and oral health education within this patient population.