Mouth bacteria: Your Oral Ecosystem

It seems that for years people have not considered their mouth a part of their body. That sounds strange doesn’t it? Yet, even the medical field has ignored the implications of a diseased mouth on a patient’s bodily health. Today that is changing. There has been all sorts of research indicating a connection between the health of the human mouth and the overall health of the human body.  A recent study has confirmed a connection between the mouth bacteria that causes periodontal disease and heart disease in mice. A large body of evidence makes the same connection in humans.

What Mouth Bacteria Can Tell Us

Mouth bacteria is a hot topic among researchers. Especially since the link between oral health and general health has been determined. Based on research it seems the role of the dentist may be expanding. Today your Lake Forest Dentist, Dr. Fondriest, explains what mouth bacteria can tell us.

Super Computers and Mouth Bacteria

UT Austin performed research on mouth bacteria using supercomputers, studying the genetics of bacterial communities. According to scientists, the human body is host to 10, 000 different species of bacteria. These bacterial species were discovered during the five year research project conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH). The project was developed to identify the human microbiome. During the research project scientists came to realize an interesting fact; microbes found in the human body outnumber actual cells by 10 to 1.

Research at UT Austin

While it is known that your mouth harbors both good and bad bacteria, the research study at UT Austin brought to light the fact that oral pathogenic bacteria can shift into a diseased state. These shifts have been linked to diseases such as periodontitis, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. Scientists speculate that if they can learn what encourages these shifts they can reverse or even prevent them and in essence prevent other diseases from developing.

Scientists also learned that changing the diet pathogenic bacteria feed on can actually change the state of the bacteria itself. As a result the pathogenic bacteria that can be rewired to be unhealthy may also be able to be rewired to be healthy again by changing diets. Such findings indicate that diseases associated with oral health may be controlled.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of Florida infected mice with four different types of mouth bacteria associated with periodontal disease. After six months, tests showed that the mice infected with the oral bacteria showed an increase in cholesterol levels and inflammation, both which are linked to heart disease. The test results also showed that the bacteria traveled throughout their bodies to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys of the mice. Additionally, certain bacteria associated with severe periodontal lesions were shown to form clots by attaching themselves to blood platelets, increasing the risk of stroke.

More Links

Periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease, has also been linked to diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, impotence in men, and it can even affect the health of an unborn child. Forty percent of cases of infective endocarditis are caused by bacteria from the mouth. According to research, mother’s suffering from periodontal disease during pregnancy can give birth to pre-term or low-birth-weight babies.

Scientist Discover More About Bacterial Behaviors

The word “bacteria” has gained many negative connotations. Our germ-phobic culture creates products that claim to disinfect 99.9% of bacteria; antibacterial gel dispensers reside on bank teller desks, classroom walls, and grocery store registers everywhere. But did you know that not all bacteria is negative, especially in your mouth? Scientists are learning more every day about the differences in oral bacteria, how the bacteria interact, and where they reside in our mouths.

What Microbiologists Say About Your Mouth

According to a recent National Public Radio story, ecologists are exploring the mouth like any other ecosystem. Microbiologist, Dr. Paster of the Forsyth Institute, explains that anywhere from 75-100 species cohabitate our mouths at any given time, and each species is partial to a certain location in the mouth. For instance, a different type of bacteria will reside on the top of the tongue than on the sides of the tongue. The scientists describe how “good” bacteria in a healthy mouth will form a shield of protection so that harmful pathogens cannot land on the mouth.

What bacteria is harmful in your mouth?

Aside from the bacteria that causes illnesses like stomach viruses, the main oral pathogens you may be concerned with are streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis. Streptoccoccus mutans, or S. mutans, are the pathogens responsible for cavities. These bacteria break down sugars and starches to create acid which erodes your healthy tooth structure. Periodontal disease is caused by an infection from porphyromonas gingivalis which collects with other bacteria in periodontal pockets.

Preventing Cavities in Chicago

While scientists continue to discover more about the nature of oral bacteria, they determine that complete oral hygiene is still the best way to prevent harmful bacteria from creating negative consequences to your oral health. You can prevent gum disease and tooth decay by scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings with your Chicago dentist, Dr. Fondriest. Contact our Lake Forest, IL, dental practice at 847-234-0517. We offer a wide range of dental treatments for patients from the entire Chicago Metro area