Scientists find a new culprit in tooth decay

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Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Adams School of Dentistry, and Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina made a breakthrough.

They found a bacterial species called Selenomonas sputigena plays a major role in causing tooth decay.

A New Discovery in Tooth Decay

For a long time, scientists thought the main cause of tooth decay was a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. This bacteria creates plaque, a sticky layer on our teeth that damages them.

But this new research shows that S. sputigena, a bacteria previously linked only to gum disease, also contributes to tooth decay.

Unveiling the Role of Selenomonas sputigena

Scientists used to think S. sputigena was only related to gum disease. But this study shows that it works alongside S. mutans, making it even more destructive to our teeth.

This surprising finding could lead to new ways to prevent tooth decay and better understand bacteria.

This study was made possible by collaboration between different universities and experts. This kind of teamwork is important for breakthroughs like this one.

The Problem of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is very common, affecting both children and adults worldwide.

It happens when bacteria like S. mutans create a protective layer, or plaque, on our teeth.

This plaque turns sugars from our diet into acids that wear down our tooth enamel, leading to cavities.

Unraveling the Secrets of Plaque

While studying plaque, scientists have found many other types of bacteria. One of these is Selenomonas, a group of bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive.

They are usually found under the gum in gum disease cases. But this study is the first to show that a specific Selenomonas species, S. sputigena, can also cause cavities.

How Selenomonas sputigena Contributes to Tooth Decay

S. sputigena was found in the plaque of children with tooth decay. While it doesn’t cause tooth decay on its own, it works together with S. mutans to speed up the process.

S.mutans uses sugar to build sticky structures in the plaque, and S. sputigena gets trapped in these.

Once trapped, it grows quickly, creating protective structures that help S. mutans survive and produce more acid, leading to more severe tooth decay.

Future Directions for Cavity Prevention

These findings provide a more detailed picture of how tooth decay develops.

This new understanding could lead to better ways to prevent cavities, like disrupting the protective structures made by S. sputigena or improving tooth-brushing techniques.

Next Steps in Research

The research team plans to study how S. sputigena, which usually lives in a non-oxygen environment, ends up on the tooth surface, an oxygen environment.

This could provide important insights into how bacteria interact with each other in different environments.

If you care about gum health, please read studies about four health conditions linked to gum disease, and a new gel could treat gum disease by fighting inflammation.

If you care about heart disease, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and Vitamin K2 could help reduce heart disease risk.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

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