Tobacco smoke makes germs more resilient

UofL dental researcher explores microbiological mechanisms as World Health Organization urges for a day of abstinence from tobacco use

University of Louisville- logoThe mouth is one of the dirtiest parts of the body, home to millions of germs. But puffing cigarettes can increase the likelihood that certain bacteria like Porphyromonas gingivalis will not only set up camp but will build a fortified city in the mouth and fight against the immune system.

University of Louisville School of Dentistry researcher David A. Scott, Ph.D., explores how cigarettes lead to colonization of bacteria in the body. Scott and his research team have identified how tobacco smoke, composed of thousands of chemical components, is an environmental stressor and promotes bacteria colonization and immune invasion.

Scott says since this initial finding several years ago, a recent literature review published in Tobacco Induced Diseases revealed that cigarette smoke and its components also promote biofilm formation by several other pathogens including Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Klebsiella pneumonia and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Biofilms are composed of numerous microbial communities often made up of complex, interacting and co-existing multispecies structures. Bacteria can form biofilms on most surfaces including teeth, heart valves and the respiratory tract.

“Once a pathogen establishes itself within a biofilm, it can be difficult to eradicate as biofilms provide a physical barrier against the host immune response, can be impermeable to antibiotics and act as a reservoir for persistent infection,” Scott said. “Furthermore, biofilms allow for the transfer of genetic material among the bacterial community and this can lead to antibiotic resistance and the propagation of other virulence factors that promote infection.”

One of the most prevalent biofilms is dental plaque, which can lead to gingivitis – a gum disease found in almost half the world’s population – and to more severe oral diseases, such as chronic periodontitis. Bacterial biofilms also can form on heart valves resulting in heart-related infections, and they also can cause a host of other problems.

“We are continuing research to understand the interactions of the elaborate communities within biofilms and how they relate to disease. Many studies have investigated biofilms using single species, but more relevant multispecies models are emerging. Novel treatments for biofilm-induced diseases also are being investigated, but we have a long way to go,” Scott said. 

Scott elaborates on this research in a short question and answer style blog published today on the BioMedCentral website.

Attention to Scott’s work comes as the World Health Organization observes World No Tobacco Day on May 31 to encourage a global 24-hour abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption. The effort points to the annual 6 million worldwide deaths linked to the negative health effects of tobacco use.

In the United States, Kentucky ranks second for cigarette use among adults, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Only West Virginia has more smokers. Kentucky also brings up the rear among youth in grades 9-12 who use tobacco; according to 2011 CDC data, about 24-percent of high school students smoke cigarettes.

World Oral Health Day: Five things you should know about THE POWER OF A SMILE!

To mark World Oral Health Day 2016 on Sunday 20 March the British Dental Health Foundation want to make sure everybody understands the enormous power that lies behind a smile.

We want you to take a moment and think about how a simple smile can be one of the most powerful tools at our disposal… and we all have one.

So to help everyone understand the power of a smile we have put together some of our favourite facts about smiles:

  • Charles Darwin who was one of the first to really look at the power of a smile. He noted that smiling is truly universal, unlike other physical actions such as body language, or verbal communication, which differs from culture-to-culture, we all understand a smile and the feelings behind it.
  • Smiles are hugely infectious.  So even if we don't feel much happier straight away, by smiling the people around us are more likely to smile, and that can then improve our mood as well.
  • A smile can really have a big effect our relationships.  More than half of people make a smile one of the first things that people notice about others and one of the most attractive features people can have.
  • A smile can also benefit our professional life too. A smile is seen as friendly and trustworthy; interviewers are likely to find candidates far more appealing if they go for a job interview with smile on their face.
  • It really is easier to smile too. I am sure you would have heard that it takes less muscles to smile than frown, this really is true 43 to frown and only 17 to smile!

World Oral Health Day is an excellent opportunity to let you know about the power of smile and discuss how important vitally oral health can be to our confidence, happiness and health.

You may have heard recent press about the amount of children with oral health problems. New statistics revealed more than 33,000 children were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic in the last year alone.

We cannot let poor oral health stop our children from smiling!

It's important that we are all aware of the correct way to look after our oral health to make sure maintain our smiles.

Looking after our smile should be quite simple, if you make sure you follow our three key messages:

  • Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
  • Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

Try to share a smile, not just on World Oral Health Day but every day, and bring a bit of happiness to those around you.

World Oral Health Day is celebrated every year on 20 March. It is an international day to celebrate the benefits of a healthy mouth and to promote worldwide awareness of the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene to looking after everyone old and young.

It is a day for us to have fun – this should be a day full of activities that make us laugh, sing and smile!

To find out more about World Oral Health Day visit www.worldoralhealthday.com