Of course we have known for a long time that dental plaque is an annoying mouth problem. However, it is not limited to the mouth alone. Recent research shows that the bacterium that causes plaque can also cause damage elsewhere in our body.
The bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum is, according to researcher Yiping Han, who works at Case Western Reserve University, the key to plaque formation. The bacterium is abundant in our mouth and is responsible for gingivitis (gum disease), periodontitis (infection around the tooth) and inflammation of the tonsils or mouth.
Infections and abscesses
However, the damage is not limited to the mouth. The bacteria can affect other organs through our bloodstream. For example, F. nucleatum can cause pregnancy complications, such as miscarriages and premature birth. In addition, the bacterium has also been found in lung, liver, spleen, blood and abdominal infections and abscesses.
With an oral infection, the bacteria can multiply extensively, up to 10,000 times. During this process a kind of binder is created, so that the bacteria stick to the surface of the teeth. Subsequently, there is an interaction between F. nucleatum and other types of bacteria. Together they can invade the cells of the host and travel further into the body.
The discovery of the 'binder' is very promising. This would allow us to develop more effective medicines. However, more research is needed. According to Han, there is only one thing left: "brushing your teeth, flossing and regularly visiting a dentist."