12:24 am - Thursday January 24, 2019

New Study: Smoking Zaps Healthy Bacteria in the Mouth


Smoking causes the body to turn against its own helpful healthy bacteria, leaving Smokers turn Healthy Bacteria against their own bodysmokers more vulnerable to disease, this was revealed by a new study.

The mouth of a healthy person contains a stable ecosystem of healthy bacteria despite the daily disturbance of brushing and flossing.

New research shows that the mouth of a smoker is a much more chaotic, diverse ecosystem and is much more susceptible to invasion by harmful bacteria.

Purnima Kumar, assistant professor of periodontology at Ohio State University, says that, “The smoker’s mouth kicks out the good bacteria, and the pathogens are called in. So they’re allowed to proliferate much more quickly than they would in a non-smoking environment.”

Further, he says, “A few hours after you’re born, bacteria start forming communities called bio films in your mouth. Your body learns to live with them, because for most people, healthy bio films keep the bad bacteria away.”

Kumar’s team looked at how these bacterial ecosystems re grow after being wiped away, in a new study. The researchers took samples of oral bio films one, two, four and seven days after professional cleaning for fifteen healthy nonsmokers and fifteen healthy smokers.

The team found that bacterial communities regain a similar balance of species to the communities that were scraped away during cleaning, for healthy nonsmokers.

Low levels of cytokines show that the body is not treating the helpful healthy bio films as a threat and disease-associated bacteria are largely absent.

The body is mounting defenses against infection in smokers who have higher levels of cytokines. This immune response takes the form of red, swollen gums, clinically called as gingivitis that can lead to the irreversible bone loss of periodontitis.

The types of cytokines in smokers’ gum swabs showed the researchers that smokers’ bodies, in addition to fighting off harmful bacteria, were also treating even healthy bacteria as threatening.

Kumar and her team do not yet understand the mechanisms behind these results but suspect that smoking is confusing the normal communication that goes on between healthy bacterial communities and their human hosts.

According to Kumar, “It has to drive how we treat the smoking population. They need a more aggressive form of treatment, because even after a professional cleaning, they’re still at a very high risk for getting these pathogens back in their mouths right away.”

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