Oral CareAccording to research being presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, a serotype of oral bacterium with possible links to systemic disease was found in a small cohort of African-American children residing in southwestern Alabama. This is the first time is has been found. Fifty-seven children, aged 5 to 10 years old, had samples collected as part of an ongoing study of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans). According to Science Daily, “the study found serotypes c (84 percent), e (3 percent) and k (11 percent), with no serotype f observed. Two samples were untypeable.”

S. mutans is often associated with cavities. It has also been linked to a variety of systemic diseases including bacteremia, hemorrhagic stroke, and infective endocarditis. According to the lead author of the study, Stephanie Momeni, a doctoral candidate in the UAB Department of Biology, “However, the bacteria evaluated in the present study were missing the proteins suggested to link S. mutans serotype k with these systemic diseases.” “S. mutans is associated with oral disease, but some serotypes have been reported to be more invasive and thus may also contribute to systemic disease,” Momeni said. “The S. mutans serotype k found in this study has undetermined significance since it lacks the previously identified invasive genes. Given the small sample size, results are considered preliminary.”