What’s New In Tooth Decay? Another Bacteria, That’s What
What’s New In Tooth Decay? Another Bacteria, That’s What
The Chaldeans of Babylon loved it for their system of terrestrial and meteorological phenomena that told an astrological future encompassing earth, water, air and fire.
Aristotle ascribed those same classic elements to all matter that matters.
The dimensions of our whole universe are only four: length, width, height and time.
It’s the division of hemispheres on this earthly plane, the number of the main structures of our brain, and the chambers that has our heart beating.
Our whole being relies on this number.
From planetary orbits, to subatomic particles, simply four things govern the behaviour of physics: gravity, electromagnetism, strong force and weak force. Our atmosphere, without which we would no longer exist, is solid, liquid, gas and plasma.
The entirety of mathematics has its basis in 4 – it’s the quaternary numbering system, and the fundamental operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
In all the words ever written and songs ever sung, the sentence structures equal only four. It’s a number that doesn’t tolerate disruption. Each subtraction from Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr brought the world to a standstill.
Four denotes the cycle of seasons we breathe through, the cardinal directions we face, the suits of cards we’re dealt, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse we trust will never come, and the luck brought by the leaves a clover.
Four is in our heart, in our head, and it’s the quadrants in our mouth.
It’s the number of types of teeth we have: incisors, canines, premolars and molars.
Incisors cut our food, canines tear it. Premolars, and molars – also known as wisdom teeth, of which there are four – crush it. Which all sounds so barbaric until you assign a napkin and some table manners to it.
All teeth are prone to tooth decay. Grooves, crannies, pits and roots that make back teeth (premolars and molars) more susceptible; it’s easier for food particles to become lodged there, and they’re a little harder to properly brush.
Especially for kids.
And adults who behave like kids, by not brushing their teeth regularly, efficiently, and feeling like oral hygiene some kind of punishment from the unjust hand of a tyrant.
A tyrant wanting you to keep your teeth and save yourself thousands of dollars. How terrible.
Next in this cavalcade of cavity disposition position are the incisors – the thinner, frontmost teeth that bite into the food before the grind of the grinders begins. It’s the place that small remnants of food like apple skin, and steak like to stay and annoy during dates and meetings.
Behind the canines is another dogged spot for caries; particularly below the gum line, for some reason. Not only does it make it harder to detect the decay, but it can also result in the gum receding.
And thanks to vapes and the sweet stickiness of e-liquids, there’s a new place in town: right smack bang in front. Right there, where everyone can see what you’re doing to yourself.
Previous, and restorative dental work (like bridges) also create the perfect environment for the bacteria that causes cavities to set up home and invite the family.
A family that now includes a new member, that used to only be interested in creating periodontal disease, but has now hooked up with the caries crowd.
Streptococcus mutans has always been the noted principle, gram-positive, anaerobic pathogen for putting holes in your teeth. Gram-positive bacteria lack an outer membrane, but are surrounded by layers of peptidoglycan; the rigid, mesh-like cell wall that’s made of sugars and characterises most microbes.
The positive about any bacilli being gram-positive, as opposed to gram-negative, is that it’s more receptive to antibiotics. (Until we run out of them; which is a different story for another day.)
What researchers have recently – and unexpectedly – found, is that the bacterial species Selenomonas sputigena (the gum disease gremlin) has formed an unholy alliance with the aforementioned S. mutans that enhances its cavity-creating chaos.
Like Thelma without Louise, or a dog day afternoon where Sal and Sonny just layed around; if Henry Hill and Jimmy “The Gent” Conway actually were good fellas, on its own, S. sputigena doesn’t ‘do’ decay. Left to its own devices, it busily gums up the works of what once were healthy gums.
Now it has another thing in which to fill its time.
S. mutans loads the gun; S. sputigena pulls the trigger.
The recent study showed that S. mutans builds sticky constructions called glucans. S. sputigena crawl across tooth surfaces by their tiny, freaky flagella and are either trapped by, or willingly move into these horrible houses of dental despair. Once there, they quickly reproduce, and go about creating ‘superstructures’ that keep and protect S. mutans.
It’s Meriton mouth apartments.
The crawliness of S. sputigena is not the first creepy cavity-causer that dental research has identified.
In 2022 – again, an unanticipated discovery – a superorganism was found in the saliva of toddlers with severe tooth decay. It too, moves across teeth. Formed by bacteria and fungi, they’re assemblages that the research team described as having developed “motions we never thought they would possess: a ‘walking-like’ and ‘leaping-like’ mobility.”
So when you’re being too lazy, or too tired to brush your teeth, just think of that.
And when you don’t think its worth those 6-monthly dental appointments, figure you’ve just handed over to Harry Trigaboff the only debt-free real estate you’ve ever owned, for free.
This newest discovery into decay that opens the way to improving dental treatments, is the result of a collaboration. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, the Adams School of Dentistry, and Gillings School of Global Public Health all got together at the University of North Carolina.
Without one of those four, it may never have happened.
Note: All content and media on the Sunbury Dental House website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.
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