Bacteria In Your Mouth: A Small Ecosystem

The Good and The Bad Bacteria

There’s a natural balance of good and bad bacteria in our oral cavity. The balance is offset if poor dental hygiene is neglected and bad bacteria take over, growing and accumulating. Did you know that there are about 700 different types of bacteria in the mouth, most are naturally occurring and doing no harm? Probiotics are examples of good bacteria that support overall health as well as oral wellness. Each of us ingest bacteria daily in the form of probiotics, either unintentionally as contaminants of food, or intentionally, in processed foods such as yogurt, fermented milk or cheese.

On the other hand, there are bacteria that can contribute to dental decay and gum disease. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria identified the most with tooth decay. It lives in your mouth and feeds on the sugars and starches that you eat. It can cause bad breath, as a result of tooth decay that is allowed to progress.

So when the wrong types of bacteria are ones proliferating in the mouth, bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease are the natural consequences. These conditions are the result of poor oral hygiene; incorrect and insufficient tooth brushing and flossing and not using mouthwashes – allow food debris and bacterial plaque to advance on the teeth and the tongue. Thick bacteria can also cling to gums, when unattended can lead to gingivitis and over time, to its more serious form, periodontitis.

So how do you combat bacteria, the hidden culprit?

Brush and floss daily. It takes 12-24 hours for plaque to gather in your mouth to support bacteria. Brushing and flossing at least once a day can remove most of this build up.
Rinse your mouth daily. Brushing alone only reaches 25% of your mouth, while a mouthwash fights the remaining bacteria in your whole mouth, teeth and gums. Research shows that some antimicrobial mouthwashes can kill oral bacteria in 30 seconds.

Cut back on sweets. Harmful bacteria like Streptococcus mutans love sugar. The more sugar and other carbohydrates they feast on, the more they produce acid that will build up on your teeth. Acid can cause enamel weakening and make teeth prone to cavities and decay. With proper and consistent oral hygiene, no bacteria is beyond your control.

Guarding Against Bad Bacteria in Bellevue

When you visit us at Overlake Dental regularly, you’ll know more about how to combat harmful bacteria that can lead to dental woes. See us today for a consultation.