Microcheck 242

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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