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What Do Marine Sponges have to Do with Plaque?

Bacteria are the bad guys in the world of dentistry. They are the key component in tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. However, certain germs, when distributed correctly (such as inside your intestines) play a role in good, balanced health. Katy, TX dentist Dr. Colin Lathrop, will explain how studying bacteria on marine sponges in Baltimore, Maryland may help scientists control bad germs when they reach harmful levels in your mouth.

An Explanation of Germs in Plaque

Bacteria gather into densely populated colonies which are known as biofilms. Plaque is an example of a dental biofilm. The bacteria communicate through something called quorum sensing to collectively attach to hard surfaces (such as your teeth). Certain germs mix with food debris, acid by-products, and your saliva to create plaque which sticks to your teeth. When plaque hardens over 48 hours or so, it becomes tartar. When tartar builds up on your teeth from poor oral hygiene, tooth decay will eventually occur unless it is removed. Progression of cavities leads to an infection in dental pulp, which usually requires root canal therapy.

Bacterial Behavior

Dr. Russell Hill is the Director of the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology in Maryland. Dr. Hill has co-authored the findings of a study focusing on bacterial communication. A signaling system between bacteria was uncovered in this study on marine sponges. The sponges studied had a “healthy, well-distributed symbiotic population,” according to Dr. Hill. Germs on the sponges showed the ability to produce appendages called flagellum. This made the bacteria capable of swimming away from an area when there was too high of a bacterial population, so they could congregate elsewhere.  In depth understanding of the communication and behavior of bacterial communities helps scientists to potentially gain control over the biofilms which harmful bacteria produce on your teeth.

Visit your Katy, TX Dentist

To learn more about cosmetic dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Colin Lathropcontact us at 832-437-3849. We welcome patients living in Katy, Fulshear, Orchard, Wallis, Weston Lakes, and the surrounding communities.