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What You Should Know About The Bacteria In Your Mouth

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

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!




Interesting Facts About the Microbes in Your Mouth

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

how to keep harmul bacteria at bayWhat’s Inside Our Mouth?

At any given moment in time, it’s safe to say that you have saliva in your mouth. Saliva – while mostly water – is made up of enzymes, electrolytes, glycoproteins, and minerals such as calcium and phosphate. It also typically has a few others minerals based on the water you are drinking or the toothpaste you’re using, just two factors that affect the makeup of your saliva.

It’s no secret that we also have dental plaque in our mouth. This plaque, in basic terms, is a sticky film of bacteria. Each day, our oral health habits work to reduce this dental plaque or they can encourage the bacteria to thrive. Our saliva plays a major role in the natural process of getting rid of the harmful bacteria. 

Since our mouth is home to millions of microbes, let’s take a deeper look at just what these microbes do.

Mostly Beneficial Bacteria

Even though we can’t taste them, we actually have hundreds of strains of bacteria in our mouth. What may surprise you to know is that, for the most part, these microorganisms in our mouth don’t do much harm. But, as stated, there are strains that contribute to tooth decay and plaque build-up.

Although the average person has as many as 700 strains of bacteria in the mouth, there are 34 to 72 specific varieties. Some of those varieties help us keep our teeth and gum healthy – and those are the kind we want to keep! These microbes work against the bacteria that thrive on food and particles in the mouth, also referred to as “bad” bacteria. You may have heard of probiotics before, and those are an example of bacteria that is beneficial to our overall health – helping us to digest foods and to absorb more nutrients from the foods we eat.

So exactly where do these microorganisms live, you ask? Microorganisms reside not only on our teeth, but also on our gums, the tongue, and on our cheek and lip tissue. When we’re born, we actually don’t have any such microorganisms…but, within a few hours of birth we are no longer germ-free anymore. Interestingly, the microorganisms that contribute to cavities don’t appear until our teeth first start emerging out of the gums.

Harmful Bacteria: What to Know 

Streptococcus mutans is the scientific name of the bacteria that thrives on food left in the mouth or on sugars or starches that remain between our teeth. (These were first discovered back in the 1920s, if you can believe it!)

Brushing your teeth, using floss daily, and regular visits to the dentist for a comprehensive cleaning helps ensure that they microorganisms cannot colonize to the point where you have negative effects in the mouth.

What’s unique about these bacteria is their ability to adhere to our teeth. Unfortunately for us, this unique characteristic is part of how they do harm to our teeth! After all, the byproduct of Streptococcus mutans is acid, which is what causes the majority of tooth decay we experience.

Managing the Bacteria in Our Mouth

If we have hundreds, if not thousands, of bacteria types in the mouth – and 10 to 50 billion bacteria total at any given time – it can seem that tooth decay is inevitable. Here’s why it’s not: First, remember that not all the bacteria in your mouth is harmful. Second, just because you have a strain of “bad” oral bacteria, doesn’t mean you will get tooth decay.

Being sure to brush after meals, having a whole foods-based diet (and reducing the amount of sugar specifically in your diet), using floss consistently, and seeing the dentist regularly for your deep cleaning (or more often, if recommended by your dentist), are just a few of the ways you can cut down on harmful bacteria reproduction. Ask us for the other specific ways you can improve your oral health.

Mouthrinses can also be used to freshen your breath, to reduce how fast tartar forms on your teeth, and to control tooth decay as well as the film of bacteria that form on your teeth. Speak to us in-person on your next visit to be sure you are doing all you can to reduce tooth decay. All of these beneficial oral health habits also contribute to a healthier-looking smile, greater confidence about your oral health, and they help ensure you don’t have bad-smelling breath. Whatever your motivation, these are all good reasons to support the natural ecology, and the “good” bacteria, in our mouth.

tooth exposed and acid

Give Hagen Dental a Call Today

No matter where you are on your health journey, we can’t wait to meet and support you! Give us a call today at (513) 251-5500 to schedule a visit for you or your family. The entire Hagen Dental team can’t wait to meet you.