There's been a new study published by the American Society for Microbiology that takes a look at the connection between tongue microbes and overall health. The study, which was carried out by Japanese scientists affiliated with Kyushu University, posits that the microbes in our mouth are catalysts for serious ailments in old age. The study highlights the link between the gut microbiota and cancer, obesity, heart disease, depression, pneumonia, and other ailments.
The doctors and their team examined the tongue microbiota composition of over 500 seniors aged 70–80. The bacterias identified were Prevotella histicola, Veillonella atypica, Streptococcus salivarius,and Streptococcus parasanguinis.
These bacteria were found in the elderly with more plaque, more cavities, and fewer teeth. Also, the study found more fungi in their microbiotas, including those who wore dentures. These results suggest that elderly adults with poorer oral health swallow more dysbiotic microbiota formed on the tongue. It is important to note that swallowing and breathing of saliva with a high amount of microbial populations can lead to pneumonia, which is a leading cause of death among elderly adults. In the United States, over 540,000 seniors were diagnosed with pneumonia in 2015. Over 50,000 people died as a result.
In short, taking care of your teeth is not something you can forget about. It should be a lifetime goal of everyone to make sure their teeth are taken care of. Regular visits to your dentist, brushing, flossing and rinsing your mouth with mouthwash should be a daily occurrence. If you have dentures, you are not exempt from these findings. You must keep them clean by using cleaners and brushes, just like you would your normal teeth!