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Scientists locate origin of mouth's damaging inflammatory response
Updated: 1/24/2011 7:00:06 PM

The mouth can protect itself from bacterial infection, but some side effects can damage teeth. A new research study reveals the source of the inflammation response in the mouth during bacterial attack, which is one part of the mouth's natural defense mechanisms against tooth decay.

The study, which will be published in BMC Immunology, describes how odontoblast cells, which are couched between tooth enamel and pulp, produce a comprehensive immune response during bacterial intrusion.

The odontoblast cells produce antimicrobial peptides that in turn fight the bacterial infection and prompt white blood cells to attend to the site. However, they also produce proteins that both start up and regulate an accompanying inflammatory response. This inflammation, however, often leads to teeth death and abscesses.

Dr. Orapin Horst, one of the study researchers, noted that "for the first time we now have targets to control irreversible inflammatory damage to teeth."

As scientists research the mouth's natural self-defense mechanisms, most individuals can take a proactive role in protecting against tooth decay.

Brushing twice daily and flossing once a day, along with scheduling routine dental cleanings, the American Dental Association suggests, are key techniques for maintaining continual good oral health.

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