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: Is it safe to use makeup testers in cosmetics stores?

Related Stories

Is it safe to use makeup testers in cosmetics stores?

November 2, 2017
A woman in the US is suing a cosmetics store because she claims that she caught herpes from their lipstick tester. In case you're wondering if this is even possible, as a microbiologist, I can tell you that it most certainly ...

Bacterial Fats, not dietary ones, may deserve the blame for heart disease

November 1, 2017
Heart disease and fatty clogs in the arteries go hand in hand. But new evidence suggests the fatty molecules might come not only from what you eat, but from the bacteria in your mouth, report UConn scientists in the 16 August ...

Five claims about coconut oil debunked

October 27, 2017
Coconuts have been a valued food in tropical areas for thousands of years, traditionally enjoyed as coconut water from the centre of the coconut, coconut flesh, or coconut "milk" (made by steeping the flesh in hot water).

Does drinking alcohol kill the germs it comes into contact with?

October 12, 2017
Alcohol is a well-known disinfectant and some have speculated it may be useful for treating gut infections. Could alcohol be a useful agent to treat tummy bugs and throat infections?

Highly virulent bacterium causes rampant caries in some children

September 28, 2017
Researchers at Umeå University in Sweden have made a novel discovery connecting highly variant types of the caries bacterium Streptococcus mutans and their adhesive function to children with rampant caries and increased ...

Although cases of toxic shock syndrome have declined, it remains a life-threatening illness

August 28, 2017
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a life-threatening illness mediated by toxins secreted in the blood by either Staphylococcus aureus or group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria. When poisonous toxins are released into the bloodstream, ...

Recommended for you

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

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 ...

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.