Like my parents, I've always drank coffee and tea with no sugar instead of soda pop, and brushed my teeth religiously. And like my parents, I have endured a lifetime of dental repair. It doesn't seem fair, especially when I encounter people who are haphazard about dental hygiene but never get cavities. It appears that there are more factors at play in our mouths, specifically streptococcus mutans.
Increasingly, scientists are thinking of cavities as a microbiome problem. The advice you got as a kid — brush your teeth, floss, eat less candy — is still important. But it’s becoming more clear that the types of bacteria inhabiting your mouth matter, too. Some people do all the oral hygiene stuff right and still get cavities because of the bacteria living in their mouths. Which presents a question: If the types of bacteria in your mouth can make you more prone to cavities, could you fix your teeth by getting different bacteria?
Getting different bacteria leads one to think of a saliva transplant, but that idea comes with a whole other set of questions. Read what we know so far about how the microbiome in our mouths affects tooth decay at FiveThirtyEight. -via Damn Interesting
(Image credit: RosarioVanTulpe)
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