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Oral health

Damaged gums

Colonies of Streptococcus pyogenes magnified 900 times: example of one of the common genera in found in children's mouths

PHIL / CDCColonies of Streptococcus pyogenes magnified 900 times: example of one of the common genera in found in children’s mouthsPHIL / CDC

The older a person gets, the greater the risk of periodontal complications affecting the gums, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. In a sample of 3,926 people aged 65 to 74, 21.7% reported gingival bleeding and 34% had tartar (hardened bacterial plaque), according to an analysis coordinated by Chaiane Emilia Dalazen, a dentist at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul (PLOS One, June 2016). The data are from the 2010 Oral Health Brazil survey (SB Brasil) conducted by the Ministry of Health, which gathered data in every Brazilian state. People who self-reported as being white and at a higher economic level were less affected by periodontal problems than individuals self-classified as non-white and at a lower income level. Recognizing that the mouth is a bacteria-rich environment can help fight this problem. At an international symposium held in São Paulo, Julia Ponomarenko, a biologist at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, announced the initial results from analysis of bacteria found in saliva samples from 1,502 adolescents 15 to 16 years of age, from 25 cities in Spain. The researchers determined that the types of bacteria varied according to geographic location, food, habits and lifestyle. The mouth of a person who had dogs at home, for example, nearly always harbored bacteria of the genus Granulicatella, frequently found in dog saliva. More than 700 different bacteria were identified in the mouths of healthy children. “Bacteria of the genus Streptococcus were found in 100% of the samples, and in 68% of the cases it was the most abundant bacterial group,” Ponomarenko said. The researchers promoted student participation in analysis of the findings, which can be seen at