Mouth diseases and tooth loss may be caused by oral microbiome alterations

Chronic periodontitis is a prevalent inflammatory disease of the tissue around and supporting the teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. Scientists at the University of Florida recently published a study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology that studied the oral microbiome of 25 healthy individuals and 25 individuals with chronic periodontitis, in order to determine if there are any consistent microbial differences between the groups.

In the study, they found that patients with periodontal disease had an altered oral microbiome with microbial communitites that were more homogeneous than healthy individuals’.  They were able to identify two specific groups of bacteria, Fusobacterium and Porphyromonas, that were associated with periodontitis and another two groups of bacteria, Rothia and Streptococcus, that were prevalent in the majority of the healthy sites without periodontitis.  The scientists also identified several genes that were involved with various biological activities that were enriched in the oral microbiome of healthy individuals.

This study provides more insight into the possible microbial causes of chronic periodontitis, which is common among adults in the United States. While this study is limited because of its small sample size and its lack of diversity among severity of chronic periodontitis disease, it is still a great starting point for further inquiry into the disease. The scientists also compared their work to previous studies utilizing Human Microbiome Project (HMP) participants, though the HMP only included healthy individuals and excluded individuals with periodontal disease.  Further research could lead to the discovery of better ways to both treat and prevent the disease by altering the microbial communities of our mouth.  

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