What Your Mouth’s Bacteria Say About You

detailed bacteria conceptSometimes, you might cringe at the thought of it, but there’s no avoiding the fact that bacteria is a major factor in your dental health. In fact, experts have identified over 600 different kinds of bacteria that inhabit a healthy mouth, along with many more that remain unclassified. The germs are most notable for the effect they can have on your teeth and gums if allowed to run rampant. However, scientists have discovered that your oral bacteria may speak more about you than just the state of your dental health. Rochester dentist, Dr. Gilly Calcagno, explores why scientists believe that your mouth’s ecology is as unique as a fingerprint, and might help experts better understand the multiple facets of bacteria and dental diseases.

Identification Through Oral Bacteria

In a study authored by Purnima Kumar, associate professor of periodontology at the Ohio State University, and a team of his colleagues, participants from several different ethnic groups were evaluated for the bacterial populations in their mouths. Surprisingly, only 2% of known bacterial species were found in all of the participants mouths. Another 8% of known types of bacteria were found in over 90% of the participants, but beyond that, researchers found that the bacterial populations varied between ethnicities. Using a DNA deep sequencing machine, the researchers were able to classify amounts and assortments of microbes from underneath the gums according to different ethnicities. The technique was able to successfully identify each subject’s ethnicity with over 62% accuracy, and may help researchers understand why certain ethnic groups, mainly African Americans and Latinos, are typically more prone to developing gum disease than other ethnicities.

The Less-Subtle Roles of Your Mouth’s Germs

Identification is a neat aspect of oral bacteria, but classifying people isn’t their main objective. Oral bacteria have garnered attention because they’re the reason why people develop gum disease, cavities, chronic bad breath, and other dental health issues. When they gather, harmful mouth germs form dental plaque to stick to your teeth and cling along your gum line. As they process the food and drinks you consume, different kinds of bacteria metabolize the nutrients (like sugar) and produce acids and toxins that threaten the health of your teeth and gums. Good hygiene, like brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day, helps control bacterial buildup and reduce your risk of developing a destructive dental disease.

About Dr. Calcagno:

Dr. Gilly Calcagno is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Minnesota Dental Association, and is active in local dental implant study clubs. To schedule a consultation, or to learn more about how the ACA will affect your family’s dental care, call Calcagno Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry today at (507) 281-3659.