Discovering the oral bacteria that could be behind common diseases

Discovering the oral bacteria that could be behind common diseases
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Researchers have identified oral bacteria that could play a key role in causing other common diseases, such as cancer.

A team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered an oral bacteria linked to severe infections, that could help them establish a clear relationship between oral health and common diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. There has minimal studies that have identified which bacteria occur in infected oral- and maxillofacial regions.

The team collected samples between 2010 and 2020 from patients with severe oral infections and produced a list of the most common oral bacteria.

“We’re reporting here, for the first time, the microbial composition of bacterial infections from samples collected over ten years in Stockholm County,” said Professor Sällberg Chen of the Department of Dental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. “The results show that several bacterial infections with link to systemic diseases are constantly present and some have even increased over the past decade in Stockholm.”

The study is published in Microbiology Spectrum.

Collecting over 1,000 samples

The researchers used 1,014 samples from 469 women and 545 men. They employed a method called MALDI-TOF that rapidly identifies individual living oral bacteria in a sample. The team plan to use the collected data to dig deeper into the association between oral bacteria and diseases.

“Our study was a single centre epidemiology study and to ensure the validity of the results we need to make more and larger studies,” said Volkan Özenci at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. “We now hope that dentists will collaborate with clinical microbiology laboratories more to gain a better understanding of the bacteria that cause dental infections, to improve diagnostics and therapeutic management of oral infections.”

Providing new insight into oral infections

The study showed that the most common oral bacteria in the samples were Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria, while the most common genera were Streptococcus spp, Prevotella spp, and Staphylococcus spp.

“Our results provide new insight into the diversity and prevalence of harmful microbes in oral infections,” added Professor Sällberg Chen. “The finding isn’t only of importance to dental medicine, it also helps us understand the role of dental infection in patients with underlying diseases. If a certain bacterium infects and causes damage in the mouth, it’s very likely that it can be harmful to tissues elsewhere in the body as the infection spreads.”

The team hope to employ their findings surrounding oral bacteria to establish a link between common diseases.


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