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What role does dental hygiene play in balancing microbes that live inside the mouth?

A new study out of Colorado State University sheds light on the inquiry, revealing a correlation between levels of microbes and frequency of dental visits and hygiene.

It comes as no surprise that individuals who see a dentist less regularly experienced a higher level of pathogenic bacterium – which is link to periodontal disease. This is a key finding in the citizen-scientist study.

Researchers focused on oral microbiome, or a whole class of microbes. Swab samples from more than 300 people, including 181 adults, were used in this study.

Along with dental visits and brushing, flossing is the weightiest factor in the correlation between levels of microbe and hygiene practices.

Test results of people who flossed more regularly showed smaller levels of microorganism diversity when compared to those who did not show as much care in their dental upkeep.

Physical removal that occurs with flossing is the primary reason for the drop-off of micro activity inside the mouth, the study concluded.

Treponema, a bacterium found inside the mouth, can cause gum inflammation and periodontal disease, a severe but treatable gum infection that can damage soft tissue and even bone.

Other findings of the crowdsourced study went beyond dental health. For instance, there are characteristics, such as age and obesity, that also correlate with the variations of oral microorganisms.

As people age, micro activity inside the mouth is in a state of greater change as periodontal pathogens increase in excess. Unfortunately, this means an increased possibility of getting gum disease. In younger people, oral microbiomes are heavily influenced by oral hygiene habits.

Families also tended to share similar ranges of oral bacteria. Even as children gained independence of dental practices from their parents or moved out of the house, they maintained similar levels. Upbringing, it turns out, plays a big role in how the body handles biological processes.

Good early habits of regular brushing and flossing may have a greater impact in dental health not only in the immediate, but for years to come.

The study provides further evidence of how integral flossing is to gum health. Flossing is the first line of defense to periodontal disease and other illnesses.

Periodontal disease is also associated with a number of other system disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, obesity and even cancer.