Research shows a new cause of tooth decay

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Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, along with their colleagues have uncovered a significant player in the development of tooth decay: a bacterium known as Selenomonas sputigena.

Traditionally, the bacterium Streptococcus mutans has been blamed for tooth decay.

It forms a sticky plaque on teeth that breaks down sugar into acids, damaging the tooth enamel and causing cavities.

However, the new study highlights the role of S. sputigena, a bacterium previously only associated with gum disease, in this process as well.

This new discovery reveals that S. sputigena collaborates with S. mutans, enhancing its destructive effects on teeth.

The findings indicate that S. sputigena, once trapped in the sticky plaque structures created by S. mutans, thrives and forms protective niches that help S. mutans to flourish and produce even more acid.

The significance of this research lies in its potential to change the way we prevent tooth decay. Understanding that S. sputigena contributes to cavity formation could lead to new dental hygiene products and strategies aimed at disrupting this bacterial partnership.

Tooth decay is a widespread issue affecting millions worldwide and can lead to severe dental problems if untreated.

The traditional focus solely on S. mutans might be too narrow, as this study suggests that the dental community should also consider other bacteria like S. sputigena.

During their investigation, scientists analyzed dental plaque from children with tooth decay and found S. sputigena present alongside S. mutans.

They observed how S. sputigena enhances the decay process by creating environments within the plaque that protect and support the growth of S. mutans.

The collaborative effort across multiple universities was crucial for this discovery, emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary research in solving complex health issues.

Looking ahead, the research team plans to explore how S. sputigena, typically thriving in oxygen-free environments below the gumline, adapts to the oxygen-rich environment on the tooth surface.

This could offer further insights into the adaptability and interactions of bacteria in varying environments.

This new understanding of the bacterial dynamics involved in tooth decay opens up potential for innovative approaches to dental care and cavity prevention.

It also serves as a reminder of the complexity of oral ecosystems and the need for comprehensive strategies to maintain dental health.Top of FormBottom of Form

If you care about gum health, please read studies about an important causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and common tooth disease that may increase risks of dementia.

For more information about gum health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing this diet could help treat gum disease.

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