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prevention International magazine for oral health No. 1, 2017

science | the enzymatic system The oral microbiome and overall health AUTHOR: DENTAL TRIBUNE INTERNATIONAL D r Michel Angelo Sciotti seems to be living the dream of any person interested in science. Michel is not only a Swiss biologist employed at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts North- western Switzerland. He’s also been an innovation scientist since 2004, who is dedicated to creating new products in the fields of molecular biology and bioanalytics. Whenever a company approaches him with a new idea, he’ll find a way to make it happen. For his doctoral thesis, he looked at oral streptococcal antigens. What does he like about dentistry? “Certainly the interac- tion,” says Michel, standing in the middle of his laboratory on a warm July afternoon. “Biologists understand the wider scope of a biochemical reaction while dentists have the practical experience and data. If a new toothpaste with an enzymatic system such as lactoperoxidase is supposed to rebalance the oral microbiome, dentists need to understand and recognise this mechanism.” Enzymes? Lactoperoxidase? Well, let’s start at the beginning. For decades, even centuries, dental and medical profes- sionals have regarded all bacteria as the enemy and something to be removed from the human body. However, dentistry has started changing this view. Modern research and technology have helped reveal that the human microbiome is an intri- cate and complex system consisting of over 1,000 different bacteria that need to exist in a symbiotic balance with our bodies—for that reason, not all bacteria should be eliminated. “The perception of bacteria has changed: bacteria are a part of our lives, they exist on our skin and are needed to protect us from opportunistic pathogens,” says Michel. “An aseptic mouth could have devastating effects on microbiome. At the same time, certain bacteria remain unknown, as do their in- teractions,” he explains. Light in the oral cavity In the oral cavity alone, there are several different and dis- tinct bacterial species present in the various ecosystems on the surfaces of the mucosal membranes, tongue, palate and other areas. Some of these bacteria are beneficial to our health, some are detrimental, but they nevertheless have co-existed for thousands, if not millions, of years. “Nature does not think in concepts of bad or good bacte- 22 issue #1

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