Science

It’s all about the microbiome

100 TRILLION

The human microbiome is made up of more than 100 trillion microbes, although the entire microbiome only accounts for about 1-3% total body mass,1  with some weight-estimates ranging as high as 3 pounds (approximately 48 ounces or 1 400 grams).

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A microbiota is “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic and pathogenic micro-organisms that literally share our body space”.2,3 Joshua Lederberg coined the term, emphasising the importance of micro-organisms inhabiting the human body in health and disease. Many scientific articles distinguish microbiome and microbiota to describe either the collective genomes of the micro-organisms that reside in an environmental niche or the micro-organisms themselves, respectively.4,5,6 However, by the original definitions, these terms are largely synonymous.

Today these trillions of bacteria that live in or on our bodies are known to play important, beneficial roles in a wide range of biological processes, including resistance to pathogens, regulation of immune function, and energy metabolism.

The human microbiome may have a role in auto-immune diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and perhaps some cancers. A poor mix of microbes in the gut may also aggravate common obesity. Since some of the microbes in the human body can modify the regulation of some neurotransmitters, it may be possible to use certain micro-organisms to supplement treatments for depression, bipolar disorder and other stress-related psychiatric disorders.

The microbes being discussed are generally non-pathogenic (they do not cause disease unless they grow abnormally); they exist in harmony and symbiotically with their hosts. The microbiome and host may have emerged as a unit by the process of integration.

The mouth is the ‘mirror’ of health and disease in the body

The US Surgeon General said it best in 2000: The mouth is the ‘mirror’ of health and disease in the body. If we think of the gastrointestinal tract as a river, then the mouth is the source of that river. It sets the stage for everything that follows in the gastrointestinal tract, as well as in the whole body.

The mouth has a variety of micro-environments that host different bacterial populations: the tongue, the hard palate, the teeth, around the tooth surfaces, both above and below the gums. 800 species 7,8,9 of aerobic and anaerobic organisms live in the mouth and are organised in biofilm communities. The mouth is the meeting place between the alimentary canal, the immune system, and the outside world, which explains why it’s so important!

THE EFFECTS OF POOR ORAL HEALTH ON YOUR BODY

Research indicates that gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and more will likely be uncovered. However, saying that two conditions are associated is not the same as saying that one causes the other. For example, studies have shown that more people who have gum disease have or experience one of the conditions mentioned above than people without gum disease. The health of one’s gums is a diagnostic tool. Inflammation of periodontal tissue may indicate inflammation elsewhere. The gums’ sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations may signal an endocrine disruption or imbalance. 10,11

Proper attention to gum health to cure (in the case of gingivitis) or arrest progression of (in the case of periodontitis) gum disease reduces the load on the immune system. Oral bacteria and other microscopic assaults induce the inflammatory response, which increases levels of C-reactive protein (among other proteins) throughout the body. When the threshold of oral bacteria is reduced and infection controlled, the acute immune response in the oral cavity may subside, lowering the levels of inflammation-inducing proteins. Research indicates that lower levels of C-reactive protein lower the risk for cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

  • 1. PERIODONTAL DISEASE
    Bone deterioration around the teeth leads to loosening and eventually tooth loss. 25% of US adults over 65 have lost all of their teeth.
  • 2. HALITOSIS
    Lack of regular brushing and flossing leaves small food particles wedged between the teeth that collect bacteria and emit chemicals, like hydrogen sulfide - the same compound that gives rotten eggs their characteristic smell.
  • 3. ATHEROSCLEROSIS
    High levels of disease-causing bacteria in the mouth can lead to clogging of the carotid artery and increased risk of stroke.
  • 4. HEART DISEASE
    People with periodontal disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease and arterial narrowing as a result of periodontal bacteria and plaque entering the bloodstream through the gums. In fact, one study found that the presence of gum disease, cavities and missing teeth is as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
  • 5. RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS
    Bacteria from periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where it can aggravate respiratory systems - especially in patients who already have respiratory problems.
  • 6. DIABETES
    95% of US adults with diabetes also have periodontal disease, and one third have advanced periodontal disease that has led to tooth loss.
  • 7. ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
    Periodontal bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, inflaming blood vessels and blocking blood flow to the genitals. In fact, men with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men with good oral hygiene.

The balance of the oral ecosystem

The delicate balance of bacteria is constantly challenged by stress, medication, illness, exercise, what we eat and drink, how often we’re able to brush, and other environmental factors.

To put it simply, the body is an ecosystem, and like all ecosystems it needs to be balanced. The mouth is no different to any other part of this ecosystem; we need to keep the beneficial micro-organisms while reducing the harmful micro-organisms. When groups of harmful bacteria become dominant we begin to see conditions such as gingivitis, periodontitis and cavities. Sometimes there is no visible oral infection but there may be an odour or unpleasant taste,  which are symptoms of halitosis. Bacteria are vital to our health and are beneficial to us if they are controlled through good oral hygiene and dental care.

A balanced oral ecosystem is essential for improved oral health, fresher breath, and whiter teeth. Numerous trials, have shown that supplementation with probiotics can improve overall oral health by rebalancing the bacteria in the mouth. This represents a positive approach versus the common antibacterial approach, and is a more natural, targeted and gentle way to maintain positive oral flora balance.

Our Science and Technology

 

For five years, Cleanition researched various products that were aimed at improving oral health. BreathActiv was developed, the world’s first and only comprehensive oral probiotic system, and ThroatActiv, an oral probiotic that serves as the first line of defence against ENT infection.

Our scientists study data from healthy microbiomes found in the mouth and compare them with microbiomes found in various periodontal and gingival disease states. By making these comparisons, and combining them with years of expertise in the dental field, we are able to empirically identify variations between the bacterial ecosystems of healthy individuals, and those of affected individuals, identifying the causes of oral diseases.

By isolating the beneficial bacteria, we then create the optimum formulation as supplements containing these microbes, which then deliver the beneficial functions back to the mouth. By establishing and maintaining a healthy oral microbiota, you can improve oral health, freshen breath and whiten teeth safely and effectively.

At Cleanition, we make every effort to bring innovative products to serve the needs of our patients and healthcare providers. Your mouth is the gateway to your body and a healthy mouth keeps you healthy.

  1. MacDougall, Raymond (13 June 2012). “NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body”. NIH.
  2. Lederberg, J; McCray, AT (2001), “‘Ome Sweet ‘Omics-a genealogical treasury of words”. Scientist 15: 8.
  3. Nih Hmp Working, Group; Peterson, J; Garges, S; Giovanni, M; McInnes, P; Wang, L; Schloss, J. A.; Bonazzi, V; McEwen, J. E.; Wetterstrand, K. A.; Deal, C; Baker, C. C.; Di Francesco, V; Howcroft, T. K.; Karp, R. W.; Lunsford, R. D.; Wellington, C. R.; Belachew, T; Wright, M; Giblin, C; David, H; Mills, M; Salomon, R; Mullins, C; Akolkar, B; Begg, L; Davis, C; Grandison, L; Humble, M; et al. (2009). “The NIH Human Microbiome Project”. Genome Res 19 (12): 2317-2323.
  4. Backhed, F; Ley, R.E.; Sonnenburg, J.L.; Peterson, D.A.; Gordon, J.I. (2005). “Host-Bacterial Mutualism in the Human Intestine”. Science 307 (5717): 1915-1920.
  5. Turnbaugh, P.J.; Ley, R.E.; Hamady, M.; Fraser-Liggett, C.M.; Knight, R.; Gordon, J.I. (2007). “The Human Microbiome Project”. Nature 449 (7164): 804-810.
  6. Ley, R.E.; Peterson, D.A.; Gordon, J.I. (2006). “Ecological and Evolutionary Forces Shaping Microbial Diversity in the Human Intestine”. Cell 124 (4): 837-848.
  7. Marsh PD. (2003) Are dental diseases examples of ecological catastrophes? Microbiology. 2003;149(2):279-294.
  8. Meurman JH, Halme L, Laine P, von Smitten K, Lindqvist C. Gingival and dental status, salivary acidogenic bacteria, and yeast counts of patients with active or inactive Crohn’s disease. Oral surgery, oral medicine, and oral pathology. May 1994;77(5):465-468.
  9. He J, Li Y, Cao Y, Xue J, Zhou X. The oral microbiome diversity and its relation to human diseases. Folia microbiologica. Jan 2015;60(1):69-80.
  10. Demmer RT, Desvarieux M. Periodontal infections and cardiovascular disease: The heart of the matter. JADA October 2006;137 (Supplement 2): 14S-20S.
  11. Mealey BL. Periodontal disease and diabetes: A two-way street. JADA October 2006;137 (Supplement 2): 26S-31S.