Oral Bacteria: What Is It and What Does It Do?

Not all oral bacteria are bad, but the harmful bacteria can undermine your oral health if left unchecked.

There are millions and perhaps billions of bacteria living in your mouth. You cannot tell that they are there with your tongue or the naked eye, but they are. Most oral bacteria are not harmful. In fact, some of the bacteria are essential to a healthy mouth and even a well-functioning immune system. But there are others that can inflame your gums and even lead to various diseases.

Researchers have identified more than 700 distinct bacteria species in the human mouth, but the average person has about 35 to 75 unique strains present. It is estimated that people who practice good oral care can have up to 100,000 bacteria on each tooth. People with poor oral health, on the other hand, can have as many as 1 billion on each tooth. Good oral bacteria include probiotics that help you digest food and probiotics that protect your teeth and gums by breaking down acids in your mouth.

The Archenemies of Your Teeth and Gums

There are bad bacteria as well, and left unchecked, these organisms can wreak havoc in your mouth. There are two strains that are particularly harmful: streptococcus mutans and porphyromonas gingivalis.

Streptococcus mutans receives a great deal of attention because it is the bacteria that feeds on sugars and starches in your mouth. The byproduct of this process is acid, which wears away at your tooth enamel, leads to cavities, and plays a role in plaque formation, which causes gum disease.

Porphyromonas gingivalis gets less attention because it should not be present in your mouth, and when it is, it usually indicates periodontitis. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that undermines soft tissues, teeth, and even bone and can lead to tooth loss and significant discomfort. Recent research even shows a connection between porphyromonas gingivalis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Winning the Battle Against Bad Bacteria

Once a new strain of bacteria is introduced to your mouth, it is unlikely that you can eliminate it without care from a dentist or other doctor. That is why it so important to brush and floss your teeth on a consistent basis. You may also want to consider a therapeutic oral rinse to control oral bacteria. It is also imperative that you visit your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and an exam even when your teeth and gums look and feel great. These checkups are a great opportunity to discuss your oral care routine and the oral hygiene products you are using. In addition, you should not overlook the importance of staying hydrated and eating a well-balanced and mouth-friendly diet.

Maintain a Healthy Balance in Your Mouth

A healthy diet, coupled with good oral hygiene on a consistent basis is the key to a balanced microbiome in the mouth. You should also visit your dentist at least twice a year to have your teeth cleaned and your mouth examined. If there are any imbalances in your mouth, Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, can recognize them early and advise treatment. Call Scottsdale Cosmetic Dentistry Excellence today at 480 585 1853 to schedule your next appointment.

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