Most people know that our mouths naturally contain some bacteria which is normal and mostly good for us. But not all the bacteria living in our mouths are good for us, says new research from Queen Mary University of London. Scientists have long known that the bacteria in our mouths that cause plaque and subsequently cavities, S. Mutans, is of course bad for our teeth. But it turns out that there is other bacteria in our mouths which has been long thought to be harmless, that actually may lead to gum disease.

Researchers believe that this new finding will help them to find new treatments for gum disease. Now that scientists know more precisely what might contribute to causing gum disease, they can more accurately determine how to fix the problem. They expect a new treatment based on oral bacteria to work in much the same way as priobiotic yogurt works. Probiotic yogurt works with the natural bacteria in the intestines and helps the digestive system. So researchers believe they can create a gum disease treatment that works with the natural bacteria in the mouth.

Scientists first tested their theories on rodents, and found some interesting results. “It [the bacteria] stimulated the growth of normal bugs leading to a large increase in the number of those organisms already there,” said Professor Mike Curtis, co-author of the paper about these findings and the Director of Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute, where the study was performed.

The bacteria in question, P. gingivalis, seemed to have an exponential effect on the oral health if the test subjects. “P. gingivalis was introduced at very low levels yet it had a major affect on both the immune system and the inflammatory system,” said Curtis. It seems that this bacteria can have a large effect even in small numbers.

Researchers believe that this new discovery will help us go a long way in terms of understanding oral bacteria and how best to prevent gum disease, but they also aren’t sure how long it will take to get a product out on the market. The results of this study are definitely encouraging, but there is a lot of work to be done before something like the probiotic yogurts will be available.

In the meantime we all have to remain vigilant with our oral health in the same ways that we always have. It is essential to brush and floss on a regular basis, and to make regular visits to Dr. James A. Wells with South Charlotte Dentistry for teeth cleanings. “People need to pay more attention to their oral hygiene. Their local hygienist, dental therapist and dentist can all assist in teaching them effective cleaning techniques. Just these simple preventative measures, as well as not smoking, will go some way to helping them avoid developing gum disease,” said Professor Farida Fortune, the Dean for Dentistry at Queen Mary.

If you are concerned about possible gum disease and maintaining your oral health, please visit our contact us page or don’t hesitate to call 704-759-0908 to make an appointment with Dr. Wells’ Ballantyne office!

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