Gingivitis, a common and mild form of gum disease can progress to periodontitis, a more serious infection that damages the soft tissue of the gums and sometimes even destroys the bone supporting the teeth. An international team of researchers and clinicians has charted the microbial ecology of the mouth at all stages of this progression, in nearly 1,000 women in Malawi. This work is laying a foundation of knowledge that could lead to better oral health.

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