Breaking biological barriers with a toothbrush

K. Amano, K. Miyake, J. L. Borke, Paul L McNeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Toothbrushing exposes epithelia and other tissues of the oral cavity to mechanical stress. Here, we investigated whether brushing induces cell wounding - plasma membrane disruption - in epithelial and other cell types in the oral cavity. Brushing of the gingivae and tongues of rats resulted in a striking increase in the number of cells positive for a marker of disruption injury. These cells included those in all strata of the gingival epithelium, and in the skeletal muscle of the tongue, Additionally, we found that brushing resulted in an increase in c-fos expression by junctional epithelial and skeletal muscle cells. Epithelial barrier function, however, was not overtly affected by brushing, despite the observed individual injuries to cells. We concluded that brushing disrupts cell plasma membrane barriers in the oral cavity and activates gene expression events that may lead to local adaptive changes in tissue architecture beneficial to gingival health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007


  • C-fos
  • Cell injury
  • Oral epithelium
  • Plasma membrane disruption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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