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Microbes in your mouth could be a distinguishing characteristic

smile2Oral hygiene still matters (keep your floss handy), but did you know that your mouth's microbial signature may also play a role in your dental and gum health? That's according to a recent study that found that among hundreds of species of microbes present in a person's mouth, only two percent were shared among the four ethnic groups studied.

What's more, the researchers found ethnicity-distinctive mouth microbial communities among the non-Hispanic black, white, Chinese and Latino populations who participated in the study.

From a release:

[Purnima Kumar, PhD, associate professor of periodontology at The Ohio State University and senior author of the study] used a DNA deep sequencing methodology to obtain an unprecedented in-depth view of these microbial communities in their natural setting.

When the scientists trained a machine to classify each assortment of microbes from under the gums according to ethnicity, a given bacterial community predicted an individual's ethnicity with 62 percent accuracy. The classifier identified African Americans according to their microbial signature correctly 100 percent of the time.

The findings could help explain why people in some ethnic groups, especially African Americans and Latinos, are more susceptible than others to develop gum disease. The research also confirms that one type of dental treatment is not appropriate for all, and could contribute to a more personalized approach to care of the mouth.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

Previously: “Mountain Dew mouth” rots teeth, costs taxpayersExploring the microbes that inhabit our bodies and Stanford researchers examine microbial communities of the mouth
Photo by manduhsaurus

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