Mouth as the gateway to your body

April 26, 2011

After cleaning your mouth, plaque begins forming before your brush even hits the cup.

A key to , said Yiping W. Han, a professor of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University is one of the most abundant and persistent that inhabits the mouth, Fusobacterium nucleatum.

She's found that the bacterium not only helps contagions attacking your teeth and gums but enables disease and infection to spread throughout the body.

Han's research is in the upcoming book, Oral : Genomic Inquiry and Interspecies Communication, edited by Paul E. Kolenbrander, which will be published later this year.

One of the most common oral diseases is gingivitis and one of the main causes of gingivitis is the formation of plaque, which is facilitated by F. nucleatum. The presence of F. nucleatum can increase infection rate of gingivitis by a factor of two or more.

Other diseases caused by or enabled by the bacteria, include periodontitis, peritonsillar, and orofacial abscesses.

But, the damage is not solely localized in the mouth. From the mouth F. nucleatum can travel through the bloodstream and invade other organs.

Through oral diseases, F. nucleatum can get into the bloodstream and cause , including miscarriage, , and stillbirth. The bacteria colonize in amniotic fluid, which stimulates an inflammatory response that harms the fetus.

This bacterium is also found in lung, liver, spleen, blood, abdominal, and obstetrical and gynecological abscesses and infections.

Han explains that "attachment is the very first step…. and Fusobacterium adhesion A (FadA) was found to be involved in binding."

Binding is a crucial step for establishing an infection in the mouth and the body.
Han found that a galactose-binding lectin is involved in the attachment process.

Invasion also requires the involvement of actins, microtubules, signal transduction, protein synthesis, and energy metabolism of the epithelial cell. Invasion is a way bacteria gain entry to the host cell and resides close to the cell's membranes.

During oral infection, the bacteria can increase in number as much as 10,000 times, making it one of the dominant anaerobic species in the disease site.

Bacteria do not colonize the mouth randomly. Colonization is well organized and occurs in predictable successions. The mouth will be inhabited by the first bacteria colonizer followed by the second until it is colonized by F. nucleatum.

This process facilitates the formation of a bioflim, which helps the bacteria colonies adhere to the surface of the teeth.

"It's like the cream in an Oreo cookie, which holds the parts in place," Han explains.

F. nucleatum interacts with a number of other bacteria and facilitates their invasion of the host's epithelial and endothelial cells. They evade the host immune system and bind to a variety of host cells to be used to transport bacteria into deeper tissues.

By knowing the attachment process and how this bacterium binds, we can develop more effective drugs, Han said. But, more research is needed to determine the exact role F. nucleatum plays and the mechanism that enables it to interact with other bacteria.

As for now, Han suggests that we "brush, floss, and see a dentist."

Explore further: Blocking yeast-bacteria interaction may prevent severe biofilms that cause childhood tooth decay

Related Stories

Airborne bacteria remain live for 45 minutes

June 19, 2017

Cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing and wash your hands. QUT and UQ scientists have developed a new technique to study how some common disease causing bacteria can spread up to 4m and remain alive in the air for up ...

Backyard poultry present salmonella risk

June 12, 2017

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this spring reports that there are eight ongoing outbreaks of salmonella in 47 states linked to backyard poultry in the United States. As of May 13, 71 people had been hospitalized—36 ...

If a croc bite doesn't get you, infection will

April 19, 2017

Most people assume if you're unlucky enough to be bitten by a crocodile, then a severed limb or other severe trauma is all you have to worry about. But new research is emerging about serious infections you can catch from ...

Recommended for you

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Study shows blood products unaffected by drone trips

December 7, 2016

In what is believed to be the first proof-of-concept study of its kind, Johns Hopkins researchers have determined that large bags of blood products, such as those transfused into patients every day, can maintain temperature ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.