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How Chewing Can Prevent Infection

The action of chewing with your mouth has never really been seen as more than a necessary function in order to make food small enough to consume safely; it is recommended that food is chewed a certain amount of times before swallowing (actual number correlates to how hard the actual food is), but the purpose of proper and careful chewing goes beyond food consumption.

“According to a new study, we would be wise to take that advice. Researchers have found that chewing food prompts the release of an immune cell that can protect against infection. The study, recently published in the journal Immunity, found that chewing food – otherwise known as mastication – can stimulate the release of T helper 17 (Th17) cells in the mouth.

Th17 cells form a part of the adaptive immune system, which uses specific antigens to defend against potentially harmful pathogens, while enduring “friendly” bacteria that can be beneficial to health. Dr. Konkel and colleagues note that the mechanical force required by mastication leads to physiological abrasion and damage in the mouth. With this in mind, the team set out to investigate whether such damage might play a role in oral Th17 cell production.

The researchers came to their findings by feeding weaning mice soft-textured foods, which required less chewing, until they reached 24 weeks of age. At 24 weeks, the release of Th17 cells in the rodents’ mouths was measured. Confirming their theory, the researchers found that increasing the levels of physiological damage in the rodents’ mouths – by rubbing the oral cavity with a sterile cotton applicator – led to an increase in the production of Th17 cells. (Honor Whiteman, medicalnewstoday.com)”

The proper chewing of your food can help ward off infection and keep your mouth healthy. Combined with regular brushing, flossing, rinsing and visits to your local Aylmer dental professional your smile will be as bright as possible for years to come.

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