Clues in the Bacteria
It’s common knowledge that practicing good oral hygiene, like brushing, flossing and seeing the dentist regularly is critical to having good oral health.
But, researchers from Colorado State University say that it is the key to good overall health as well.
In a recent study, scientists from the school took a look at the communities of microbes that live in the mouth.
The mouth, also known as the oral microbiome, is made up of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms.
The recent study, published in Scientific Reports, further supported the previously proven connection between individuals who did not visit the dentist regularly and the presence of pathogens that cause periodontal disease.
The study was conducted at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It found, among other things, a correlation between a lack of good oral hygiene and the presence of pathogens that cause gum disease.
During the study, researchers created a broad cross section of participants by asking museum visitors to submit to a cheek swab. Those who opted to participate in the survey also answered a few questions about their lifestyles, demographics and health habits.
After the samples were collected, the research team began analyzing microbial DNA sequencing.
The findings of said sequencing showed that overall oral health habits play a role in how the communities of bacteria in the mouth develop. The project also stressed the need to consider how oral health is connected to the health of the rest of the body.
“There is a connection between the health of the body and the health of the mouth. In many cases, signs of chronic illness develop in the mouth, and signs of illness in the mouth develop in the body,” said Dr. Kevin Pollock, a Rockwall, Texas, oral surgeon.
After collecting swabs, the researchers put participants into two categories: people who flossed and people didn’t floss. They found that those who flossed had lower rates of microbial diversity in their mouths than those who did not. One theory behind this was that those who flossed were physically removing the bacteria from their mouths that caused inflammation or illness.
Individuals who had seen the dentist in the last three months also had lower overall microbial diversity in their mouths than those who had not had a checkup in a year or more. Notably, this group had lower levels of the periodontal disease-causing oral pathogen known as Treponema. The researchers also believed this was due to professional dental cleanings removing more bacteria.
The bottom line?
“Brush, floss and see the dentist regularly,” Pollock said.
Source: Colorado State University. “The microbes in your mouth, and a reminder to floss and go to the dentist: Oral microbiome was subject of crowd-sourced study.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2020.