By Susan Braden
The human mouth is full of microbes like bacteria and fungi, and scientists believe the study of these cells could lead to more advanced discount dental strategies for treating decay and gum disease. Most are harmless, but some are responsible for the most common disease in children: cavities (Pew Center on the States). Additionally, tooth decay affects between 60 to 90 percent of teenagers and adults, according to the World Health Organization.
Microbes do not only have the potential to cause mouth problems like tooth decay and gum disease. More serious infections can actually cause the bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body as well. Oral microbiologists have been searching for ways to multiply the good bacteria and fight off the harmful ones to offer more discount dental options for oral health. They have created products like chewing gum and oral rinses, often available with a discount, that contain compounds that cause "good" bacteria to multiply, while some even contain the helpful kind themselves.
Scientists from King’s College London Dental Institute discovered three new strains in 2008 that may help dentists prevent and treat certain oral diseases. They can be found in other parts of the body as well and are associated with an assortment of diseases and infections. This particular species was found in both healthy and cancerous tissue, which scientists say confirms that mouth bacteria can permeate both tissues and individual cells.
"The bacteria are the most numerous: there are 100 million in every milliliter of saliva and more than 600 different species in the mouth," said oral microbiologist William Wade, a professor at the Institute. "Around half of these have yet to be named, and we are trying to describe and name the new species."
Scientists are still trying to understand and classify the oral microbes so they can learn how to more effectively prevent and treat oral disease. They hope to make oral health care more widely available and more easily accessible, so that people can get discount dental work.