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Scientists are hoping that their discovery of a new type of oral bacteria could help in the battle against common mouth diseases.
Researchers at King's College London Dental Institute discovered three strains of Prevotella histicola in the mouth's flesh lining.
They believe the bacteria are linked to tooth decay and gum disease, as well as infections in other areas of the body.
"The healthy human mouth is home to a tremendous variety of microbes including viruses, fungi, protozoa and bacteria," commented the institute's Professor William Wade.
He added that "around half" of the 600 species of bacteria that exist in the mouth have not yet been named.
There are approximately 100 million bacteria in every milliliter of a person's saliva.
Wade said that the discovery of Prevotella histicola in both oral tumors and healthy mouth tissue demonstrated that such bacteria "can invade both tissues and individual cells."
Among the factors that raise the risk of gum disease are a history of smoking, diabetes, defective fillings and use of certain medications such as steroids, according to the American Dental Association.
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