Phone (513) 251-5500
July 15th, 2017

What You Should Know About The Bacteria In Your Mouth

Category: cincinnati dentist, dental health

Ever wonder what’s really floating around inside your mouth? Besides housing your pearly whites, your mouth serves as a home to many different microorganisms.

More specifically, there are more than 700 different strains of oral bacteria that exist. Don’t worry–for the most part, these tiny little guys do no harm. Additionally, most people only host roughly 60 different kinds of these bacteria (1).

 

Not All Bacteria is Bad

‘Bacteria’ tends to have a negative connotation, and people usually perceive the word as harmful. However, that’s not always the case. Some of your oral bacteria is actually good bacteria. These bacteria help protect your oral health in a number of different ways:

1. They Help Digest Your Food

It’s not just your stomach that digests your food—the digestion process actually begins in your mouth. Microorganisms called probiotics are responsible for triggering the enzymatic reaction that produces saliva, which in turn begins digestive action (2).

2. They Fight Oral Disease

Because these bacteria stimulate and improve saliva production, they play an important role in your oral health. Saliva helps wash away sugar, food bits, and unwanted germs—all of which can be harmful to your mouth’s health. This process aids in fighting off oral diseases such as periodontal disease, oral candida, and dental caries.

3. They Battle Bad Breath

Who wants to have bad breath? The answer: nobody. Good bacteria in your mouth fight the more aggressive bacteria that feed on food particles and produce an unwanted odor. So, you can thank these bacteria for keeping your breath fresh (2).

Some Bacteria is “Bad”

Unfortunately, there are some harmful bacteria, which can play a role in tooth decay and gum disease. There are two main harmful bacteria:

1. Porphyromonas Gingivalis

Although this is typically not found in healthy mouths, it can lead to a serious disease called periodontitis. This is a severe, progressive disease that attacks the alveolar bone and tissues that support your teeth. Periodontitis not only produces severe pain within the tooth, but can even lead to tooth loss!

2. Streptococcus Mutans

There are bad bacteria in a healthy mouth, too. You may already know about streptococcus mutans. These microorganisms are present in your mouth and are triggered by starches and sugars in your diet. Acting as the leading cause of tooth decay, streptococcus mutans produce an acid that erodes your enamel—which is the outer layer that protects your teeth (2).

 

How to Control the Bacteria

You can help your mouth fight off the bad bacteria by maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits.

Harmful bacteria form most predominately on the gum line and in between the teeth. This is why it’s imperative to floss (daily!) in these areas. In addition to flossing, brushing your teeth after each meal is also very important to fend off unwanted germs. This helps remove food particles, which is what the harmful bacteria feed on. Using an anti-bacterial mouthwash is another tool to strengthen your healthy oral bacteria while fighting off the bad.

Your diet also affects your oral bacteria. Avoiding starchy and sugary foods can help minimize the fuel source for harmful bacteria (2).

We Care About Your Total Health

One of the best ways to manage your oral bacteria is to schedule regular check-ups with your dentist. Teeth cleanings, oral examinations, and the eye of a professional are all tools in identifying risks for tooth decay and gum disease. We want to help customize your oral hygiene regimen to ensure you maintain a healthy smile!

Give us a call today at (513) 251-5500 to schedule a visit!

Sources/References

1. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/article/oral-bacteria-what-lives-in-your-mouth-0513

2. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/article/mouth-bacteria-friend-or-foe-0316

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