The distribution of bacterial flora in the mouth is governed by differing receptors on the epithelium. The quantity of flora on mouth epithelium is limited by shedding. The teeth, being a non-shedding surface, allow enormous populations of bacteria, manifest as dental plaque. A properly functioning stomach destroys most microorganisms before they reach the intestine. The normal intestinal flora helps protect the body from infection; disruption of the flora caused by antibiotics can lead to infection. Metabolic activity of intestinal flora produces vitamins, but it causes gas and can contribute to cancer.
■ Why must teeth be present in order for anaerobic bacteria to colonize the mouth?
■ What is the advantage to the body of having pepsin becoming active only on exposure to acid?
■ Why is it that the tongue and cheek epithelium doesn't provide sufficiently anaerobic conditions for plaque anaerobes to grow?
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