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We thought we knew precisely the cause of cavities, but a new bacterium, involved in other oral problems, could be responsible.

“Caries is a destruction of the enamel and then the dentin of the teeth with the formation of a cavity. It is caused by the bacteria naturally present in the mouth and favored by the consumption of sugar and certain behaviors”, recalls the Insurance disease. And until now, a germ was particularly involved: Streptococcus mutans. But a recent study published in NatureCommunications suggests that another bacterium could be the cause.

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The researchers were interested in the interaction of bacteria present in the mouth, to understand how some could promote the “work” of others. Their attention fell on Selenomonas sputigena, after taking samples from more than 400 children between 3 and 5 years old (half had cavities), which they then analyzed.

Honeycombs in the mouth

This bacterium is already known, but it was hitherto implicated in other oral problems, on the side of the gums and not of dental plaque. But they realized that its operation could greatly promote the birth of cavities, by helping the other bacteria to penetrate the teeth.

In the mouth, Selenomonas sputigena gives rise to structures resembling honeycombs, which offer Streptococcus mutans comfortable alcoves for… digging into your teeth ! In addition to facilitating its work, the researchers note that it amplifies the phenomenon of acidity at the origin of this erosion of the tooth, resulting in even more serious cavities. The goal now is to find a way to fight against the formation of these nests inside the mouth…

Source: Nature Communications

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