Gum Cell Discovery About Cells that Control Bacteria in the Mouth

A new gum cell discovery could lead to better dental care. The body’s immune system is its protection against disease. And, understanding how it works may be vital for maintaining oral health.

Science Daily reported that researchers have discovered a gum cell that senses chemicals. It can detect the byproducts of damaging oral bacteria.

Facts About Periodontal Disease

When not held in balance in the mouth, bacteria and other microorganisms can cause periodontal disease (gum disease). The body’s immune system constantly works to reduce the types and amounts of oral bacteria. In fact, the immune system is the body’s primary line of defense. It protects against soft tissue damage and bone loss, resulting from gum disease.

Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss. In addition, it is the sixth most common infectious disease throughout the world. Besides this, finding a way to boost the body’s immune system and naturally prevent gum disease would help people everywhere.

How This Gum Cell Discovery Could Counteract Periodontal Disease

A gum cell discovery study showed that certain cells express bitter taste sensors along with a protein called gustducin. Gustducin is a taste-signaling molecule. The gum cells in combination with gustducin cause the production of anti-microbial molecules. Furthermore, anti-microbial molecules can destroy harmful bacteria.

In studies that used mice, researchers discovered:

  • Mice that lacked gustducin in the gum cells had greater damaging microbes in their mouths
  • Knocking out the taste-signaling gustducin molecules increased the growth of pathogenic oral bacteria
  • Simulating the bitter taste receptors in the gum cells increased anti-microbial molecule production
  • Mice without gustducin experienced bone loss in their gums
  • A bitter-tasting mouthwash reduced the occurrence of periodontal disease in mice

Some people have genetic factors that reduce their bitter taste receptors. Researchers believe this factor could be a way to screen for people who are most prone to oral infectious diseases.

Do You Have Dental Concerns?

At Hutto Hippo Family Dental, our dentists can help you have healthy teeth and gums. We are always glad to answer your questions and address your concerns.


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