Consumer News: Research finds possible origin of bacteria that causes tooth decay in children

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The general belief in dentistry is that Streptococcus mutans , a bacteria known to cause cavities, is transmitted from a mother to her child. However, new research suggests exposure to the bacteria frequently comes from outside the home. The general belief in dentistry is that Streptococcus mutans , a bacteria known to cause cavities, is transmitted from a mother to her child. However, new research suggests exposure to the bacteria frequently comes from outside the home. Most children share the bacterial strain with their mother. In a study presented at the American Society for Microbiology MICROBE research meeting June 17 in Boston, 72 percent of kids had one or more strains that were contracted outside of the family, most likely from other children. Twenty-three percent of the test subjects only shared a strain with a sibling or other child living with them in the home. The research was done by Stephanie Momeni, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research provided funding for the study. Ms. Momeni assessed the S. mutans genome of 119 African-American children who had at least one household family member evaluated; 76 percent of those children had more than one other family member evaluated. For more information on cavities and ways to avoid tooth decay, visit the cavities page at www.mouthhealthy.org

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How Is Tobacco a THREAT TO ORAL HEALTH?

Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7