Looking at microbes in people’s mouth, researchers find that flossing and regular dentist visits decrease a pathogen that causes periodontal disease. The findings were from Colorado State University microbiome researchers in conjunction with a crowd-sourced, citizen science-driven study at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The oral microbiome is basically all the microorganisms that exist in your mouth. The researchers looked at cheek swabs obtained from visitors to the museum in 2015. Swabs were collected from 366 individuals, consisting of 181 adults and 185 youth aged 8 to 17. These original swabs were for a study into human taste.
Microbiome scientists from Colorado State University microbiome then analyzed at the cheek swabs using sequencing and analysis tools to determine which microbes were present in which mouths. University of California San Diego researchers helped with the sequencing data and nutritionists at Michigan State University brought looked at the importance of child and maternal relationships to the data analysis.
Flossing and Regular Dentist Visits
The data was divided into those who floss and those who did not floss, since all subjects reported that they brushed their teeth. People who flossed had lower microbial diversity in their mouths compare to non-flossers. This is most likely due to the physical removal of bacteria that could be causing inflammation or disease.
They researchers also found that adults who went to the dentists within the last three months also had lower microbial diversity in their mouths, compared to those who haven’t gone for 12 months or longer. These adults who visited the dentists also had less of the periodontal disease-causing oral pathogen called Treponema. This was likely because bacteria were removed during the dental cleanings.
Distinct Microbiomes in Obese Children
Children who were classified as obese had distinct microbiomes as compared to non-obese children. These obese children also had higher levels of Treponema. This was one of the interesting link in the study – that obese children had a higher risk of periodontal disease.
Another interesting finding is that people who live in the same household had similar oral microbiomes.
“I think how our lives are essentially driven by our microbiomes, and affected by our microbiomes, is interesting, no matter what system we’re looking at,” said Zach Burcham, the paper’s lead author.