Researchers Pinpoint Cavity-Causing Bacterium



Researchers believe they have identified bacteria that cause early childhood caries.

A team of scientists from Boston agreed with previous information stating that Streptococcus mutans is a main cause of early childhood caries. The team, however, discovered a new bacterium, Scardovia wiggsiae. The researchers believe this bacterium is also a major factor in caries development.

The findings appear in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

The goal of the study was determine what species of bacteria needed to be suppressed to prevent cavities from developing. It was essential to make this finding because early childhood caries is the most common chronic infectious disease for children in the United States. It impacts at least 25 percent of children in some segments of the population and as much as 50 percent in others.

To formulate the data, the research team used samples of the bacteria in the dental plaque of children who had early childhood caries. It was compared to the plaque, in a similar location on the tooth, of children who didn’t have caries.

The researchers used 16S Ribosomal RNA to translate the genetic code. The bacteria had to be in an acidic culture because high acidity causes caries and only acid-tolerant bacteria can survive in most caries.

S. wiggsiae was present in many of the samples. This makes sense because this bacterium can handle acidity.

To prohibit this kind of bacteria from developing on children’s teeth, mouthrinses like chlorhexidine help. Consuming less or no products with sugar would also significantly decrease childhood caries.