Background: Epigenetics involves alterations in gene expression that do not involve modifications in the DNA sequence, the memory of which can be passed down to the next generation in somatic cells. DNA methylation is an example of a mechanism that produces epigenetic changes. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent publications on DNA methylation in oral infections and inflammatory diseases, and to discuss its potential as a cause of disease and as a therapeutic target. Highlight: Several types of oral bacteria and viruses may lead to DNA hypermethylation in oral tissues. Aberrant DNA hypermethylation is observed in oral inflammatory diseases, including chronic period- ontitis, lichen planus, and radicular cysts. Conclusion: Since epigenetic modifications are reversible, aberrant DNA methylation is a possible therapeutic target for such diseases. However, little is known about the epigenetics in oral inflammatory diseases, and further investigation is needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms before epigenetic therapy can be used to treat oral inflammatory diseases.
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