Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Germs as Friends

Ever cringe when you see toddlers and little ones putting every dirty thing in their mouths? We've heard for years that germs are to be avoided at all costs. Now, however, researchers are starting to realize that our gut bacteria or the microbiome has a big role in keeping us healthy. The "good" bacteria army keeps the "bad" players at bay. Fascinating! (to quote Vulcan Science officer Spock).

Recently, in the science journal Cell Host & Microbe, the results of a study on the microenvironment of the mouth was reported. Researchers in China followed and sampled the bacteria in the mouths of fifty 4 year-old children. They divided them into three groups; healthy children with no caries (cavities), those with few caries, and those with lots of caries. Then, they compared the groups with regard to the types and amount of bacteria that made up their dental microbiome over a two year time period. 

Jian Xu, one of the study's coauthors explained that the healthy children had a diverse microbiome. And although variables like saliva and plaque amounts affect caries too, this study provides a window into when children get cavities, how their mouth microbiome develops, and what that means to their future dental health. Food for thought.  Go science!