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Fast Facts - Red Complex Bacteria

Fast Facts

Fast Facts: Perio Edition Episode 7
[Andrew Johnston, RDH]
Welcome back,  everyone. You are listening to another episode of Fast Facts- Perio Edition brought to you by A Tale of Two Hygienists in partnership with DentistRX. And now, please welcome your host, Katrina Sanders.
[Katrina Sanders, RDH]
Welcome back to another episode of Fast Facts: Perio Edition with Katrina Sanders. Today, we will be unpacking red complex bacteria, the late colonizers, or, as I call them, the friends that show up to the party and absolutely destroy your house. They're the last ones to arrive and they make the most impact. Specifically, these late colonizers are termed obligate anaerobic, meaning that they are poisoned by oxygen or they must survive in the absence of oxygen.
These bacteria can either be motile or non motile. They are spirochetes and vibrio in shape and typically gram negative in the pink stain.  Interestingly enough, these bacteria show up and thrive in the subgingival space, which makes sense because they are obligate anaerobic. Living in that subgingival space these red complex bacteria have found a creative way to use our own Gingival crevicular fluid as a nutritional fuel source for them.
These red complex bacteria are Tannerella forsythia, Treponema denticola, and the Regina George of red complex bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis. Now these red complex bacteria are capable not only of creating challenges with periodontal disease, but we have seen these bacteria become systemic risk factors for cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, pregnancy complications, diabetes, esophageal cancer and kidney diseases, just to name a few. These red complex bacteria also have the capability of not only entering the bloodstream and circulating through the body when there is ulceration of the gum tissue lining but they also create proteolytic enzymes and toxins. Rather, these bacteria have the capability of increasing tissue permeability, destroying collagen and even breaking down penicillin with their own enzymes. These bacteria release their own waste products that can also become toxic to our host cells, and they will release exotoxins and endotoxins.
It is believed that once these bacteria are present, that the body is in a complete state of oral inflammatory conditions. And this is where we begin to see periodontal disease truly manifest. Stay tuned as we talk about the most advanced of bacteria in the oral cavity in next week's episode. Thank you for joining and have an awesome week.
This has been another episode of Fast Facts - Perio Edition with Katrina Sanders, RDH. Please feel free to reach me on Instagram @thedentalwinegenist or on my website Cheers.
[Andrew Johnston, RDH]
Thank you for listening to another episode of Fast Facts - Perio Edition, brought to you in part by DentistRX makers of the InteliSonic line of power brushes. Find out more by visiting their website at We'll see you next week for another Fast Fact!

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