All About the Bacteria Living Inside of Us

January 15th, 2021

Believe it or not, bacteria living inside of our bodies is a natural part of our lives. Even within our mouths there are tons of bacteria living harmoniously. A new study performed by researchers at Harvard University in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology assessed the oral microbiome to learn more about why certain bacteria tend to be abundant in particular places of the mouth while not present in other places. The study, which was published in Genome Biology this past December, found numerous genes that may explain why this phenomenon occurs.

Lead author of the study Daniel R. Utter noted, "As microbial ecologists, we are fascinated by how bacteria can seemingly divide up any habitat into various niches, but as humans ourselves, we also have this innate curiosity about how microbes pattern themselves within our bodies." The study authors also questioned how bacteria may end up in the wrong place within our bodies, and how might we add the correct bacteria into its normal place when necessary? New technology in the field has helped researchers tackle these questions and some of the major challenges in analyzing the diverse groups of bacteria and their scientific properties.

According to the study, the mouth carries an astonishing amount of site-specific microbes in different areas. For example, the microbes found on the tongue are unique to the microbes found in the plaque on the surfaces of your teeth.  Co-author A. Murat Eren, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago, stated, "Your tongue microbes are more similar to those living on someone else's tongue than they are to those living in your throat or on your gums!"

The researchers first looked at 100 genomes representing four common oral bacterial species as references, and then compared them to the oral bacteria sampled in the mouths of hundreds of volunteer research participants from the Human Microbiome Project (HMP). They found a significant amount of variability of bacteria between different parts of the mouth, in particular on the tongue, cheeks, and tooth surfaces.  In several instances the researchers identified a specific group of genes that may play a role in the bacterial group's specific location within the mouth.

The researchers hope that these findings could help the future of targeted probiotics to help manipulate beneficial microbes to a specific location. They are looking forward to further research that could offer new knowledge on oral microbes and our health.

This pandemic has impacted us all, but our community is indeed all stronger together. Our team at WDG always has your safety and health as our top priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures and equipment to help prevent the transmission of all infections, including COVID-19. Wellesley Dental Group has completely reopened since June 8th, 2020 for all dental procedures and cleanings! Thank you for entrusting your health and dental care to us at Wellesley Dental Group.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.




The Science Behind a True Smile

April 23rd, 2014

imagesMany may think that a smile is merely a fleeting facial expression that comes without leaving any real consequence. However, a smile shouldn’t be taken for granted. In fact, the science behind a smile has been explored in various classes across the country. The Harvard Medical School offers a course that takes an interdisciplinary approach when digging into psychiatry, behavioral genetics and behavior economics. Cognitive researcher Nancy Lee Etcoff, the instructor of this course, notes that brain’s pleasure circuit is often triggered by a smile.

A smile activates the release of neuropeptides that work to reduce stress. Neuropeptides are small molecules that allow neurons to communicate, passing a messages to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, excited. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are released when a smile crosses the face. Endorphins are known to act as a natural pain reliever and serotonin acts as an anti-depressant/mood lifter as well. Many pharmaceuticals have done extensive research on synthesizing a drug that will influence levels of serotonin, but a smile is the natural way to go, without the negative side effects and the necessary prescription from the doctor. Researchers at the University of Kansas have demonstrated that smiling during brief periods of stress has the potential to reduce the body’s stress response, regardless of whether the person actually feels happy or not.

But don’t think you can trick the brain into thinking that a less than genuine smile is for real. Researches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed analyzing measures that can detect the subtle differences between a smile generated b frustration and one originating from true happiness. The MIT Media Lab have discovered that the anatomy of smile differs between a forced smile and a genuine smile. Ehsan Hoque, a member of the MIT Media Lab, gives an analogy, stating that “just because a customer is smiling, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re satisfied,” he says.  He reminds us that “the underlying meaning behind the smile is crucial.” Further studies done has connected this information to the neurotransmitters released in the brain, they have also found that genuine smiles originating from a positive event, where your eyes and mouth muscles are engaged, are more effective at lowering heart rate and reducing stress.

But can you also benefit from smiles around you? Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego found that happiness smiles can be spread through social networks. "Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness," says Nicholas Christakis, a professor at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study. Another study published in the journal Neuropsychologica demonstrated that when you see an attractive smiling face, this activates the orbitofrontal cortex, which is the portion of the brain that process sensory rewards. This indicates that when you catch someone giving you a smile, you feel like you are rewarded. According to Marianne LaFrance, a psychology professor at Yale, if we see a happy face for just 4 milliseconds,  that’s long enough to bring out a mini emotional high. In a study where participants were flashed a smile, even though it was shown too quickly for them to even realize they had come across it, they started to perceive things around them more positively.

As Mother Teresa eloquently puts it, "every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." Let’s continue to put on genuine smiles and before you know it, you’ll find yourself feeling brighter and happier!

If you have any more questions, feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questionsContact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment and consultation.



Vacation week!

February 19th, 2013

It’s school vacation week! At WDG, we had an amazing President’s Day where we saw so many of our wonderful patients. We’re looking forward to seeing so many more this week. It really makes us happy when vacations come because it means that our busiest patients will have enough time to put their health first and come visit us for their much-needed care. This is especially true for our youngest patients who attend school.


Have you visited your dentist recently? Now might be a great time. It’s so important to prioritize your oral health, especially for children. Starting good oral health habits early on lead to a life of better oral and general health.

Besides visiting your dentist, here are some fun things you can do this vacation week!

1. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and check out their special learning opportunities with your child. Workshops are from 10 am – 4 pm.

2. It’s February Vacation week at the zoo! Visit the Franklin Park Zoo and experience the wonders of the animal kingdom and the jungle with your child. This week, the zoo is offering extra learning opportunities for young enthusiasts.

3. Even though it’s still chilly, if your child is outdoorsy, here are some great suggestions for family hikes from Mommy Poppins, like Walden Pond. It may be a good idea to call beforehand to make sure there are no weather-related issues.

4. Check out your local library for fun events, concerts, and movies! The Wellesley Free Library even has a Young Scientist event where they are bringing in owls!

5. Spend family time together. No matter what you do, having fun as a family is special! Get off the computer and connect with one another the old fashioned way. Cook, take walks, listen to music. It doesn't matter as long as you have each other.

Keep smiling and have a safe vacation!

Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group will be very happy to answer your questions and advise you on your oral health needs. Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com!

We love you, too!

February 15th, 2013


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We had such amazing Valentines with our wonderful WDG family! The very lucky Jobson family won the free whitening certificate while Andrew Harrison and Shana Hardgrave won a certificate 50% off their choice of whitening. We know it will make them smile.

Here are some of our favorite Valentines we received this year:

“Roses are red, violets are blue, who doesn’t love clean teeth? All of us do!” Kate F.

“We love <3 <3 <3 Drs. Ali, Emad, and Pradhan!” – The J. Family

“Wellesley Dental, where you never leave without a smile!” – Andrew H.

“Happy Valentine’s Day” Shana H.

“Thanks for helping to keep me smiling.” –Chris L.

“Thank you for all your kind care and help” – Tahera R.

“Wellesley Dental Group. Thanks for taking good care of my teeth!” - Trish L.


"I never had a dentist where I almost fall asleep during a treatment, known by name by every team member and are welcomed with the warmest smile. Your service is outstanding!" Miriam C.

“Happy Valentine’s Day! You are all wonderful!!” - Irene C.

“I love you WDG. We are the best team ever!”

“Wellesley Dental Group. Best wishes, thanks for everything” – Guido V.

“<3 Wellesley Dental for doing such a good job!”  - John Q.

“Thank you for giving me a great smile!” - Kate Y.

“Please make my smile brighter this Valentine’s Day! Thank you!!”


Drs. Ejaz and Femina Ali and the Caring Team at WDG wants to let you all know, we love you too!

Keep your kids cavity free!

February 12th, 2013

Sure, they may have baby teeth that will fall out soon enough; however, prioritizing good oral health practices in your children early on is important. Building good habits in your kids will positively influence their overall health for years to come. So what can you do now to help your child’s future?

  • Make sure they brush twice a day every day and start flossing early on so they get into the habit now. Plaque, a bacterial film, builds up and in between the teeth, so consistent removal is important. If plaque is left to sit, it can cause decay and gum problems.
  • Make an appointment for your child’s first visit if you haven’t yet. It’s a good idea to make an appointment as soon as the child’s first tooth comes in or no later than their first birthday.
  • Set a good example by prioritizing your own oral health and remember, the way in which you talk about the dentist will affect your child’s expectations of their own dental visits. By staying positive and sharing good experiences with your child, you will keep your child at ease. Going to a dentist is a positive thing and it’s great when children look forward to it. Ask you dental office if you can bring your child beforehand for a show and tell! Help your dentist build a lasting relationship with your child.
  • Watch what your child eats. Sugars don’t come solely from candy and juices. In fact, a recent study discovered that the food that causes the most cavities isn't sweet at all, crackers. Most crackers are highly processed foods and are a feasting ground for bacteria, which deteriorates tooth enamel. A better option for your children are whole grains, unprocessed foods and be sure to stay away from sticky foods, which can get caught between teeth and within the groves of the tooth surface.


Oral hygiene is an integral part of the day, like eating breakfast. Help your child set him/herself apart from the alarming number of children who have tooth decay. In fact, according to the CDC, 25% of children between the ages of 2-5 have tooth decay. With better oral health practices from the start, this can change.

For more great health tips, please visit the ADA's website. If you want an in depth guide, go to this wonderful resource from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists that goes from pacifiers to fluoride treatments.


We love you, do you love us?

February 7th, 2013

It’s almost Valentine’s day – let your smile say “I Love You”. Share the love and say something sweet to WDG and be entered to win a drawing for a free whitening service. Tell your friends and family, anyone can enter!


Send WDG a valentine on our Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or email us a love note and you will be entered to win a free whitening (retail value up to $550). Two runners up will also be selected in a blind drawing to win 50% for a whitening.

Not feeling tech savvy? Stop by our office and fill out one of our cute Valentines with your contact information to enter.

The drawing will take place on February 14th. Kid's you can still enter and save your win as a present for Mother's or Father's Day! Must be 18 years of age and older to receive whitening treatment.

Our favorite love notes will be featured on our social media on Valentine's Day. Feeling shy? You can always send us a love note anonymously.

May cupid be on your side!

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