• 28 AUG 18
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    What Does Your Mouth Bacteria Do?

    Designer's rendition of a mouth with bacteria in it.

    Many people think of the word “bacteria” negatively, and in many cases, they would be right. However, bacteria is not bad in all cases, such as the fact that it helps you digest your food. Over 700 different types of bacteria have been found in the human mouth. But, what is all that bacteria doing in there? And what does mouth bacteria even do for you? Find out how mouth bacteria is related to tooth decay, digestion, oral health diseases and how you can get rid of the bad kinds of bacteria!


    What Mouth Bacteria Do You Have?

    There are between 500 and 700 strains of bacteria that have been identified in the human mouth. However, depending on the method of detection, there could be many more than that. Scientists and researchers determine how much mouth bacteria you have, the type, and what they feed on by taking samples of plaque from different areas of the mouth. Along the gum line and in gingival (gum) pockets are the best places to find bacteria.


    Many bacteria are not harmful to you or your mouth. Some are naturally in the body and break down your food for digestion, which is why your saliva is acidic. If it wasn’t, you couldn’t break down your food into fuel for your cells. However, other bacterias are harmful to the body, causing decay, disease, illnesses and more. The best kind are working in your mouth to make sure your saliva is at a stable pH and that your teeth are being mineralized correctly. The more bacteria you have in your mouth, the more you will have later, as mouth bacteria can multiply every few hours.


    A close-up view of a woman sticking out her tongue.

    Facts to Know

    You don’t have to get grossed out by mouth bacteria because it is a way of life. You should, however, know why you should care about your mouth bacteria and why you should do all that you can to reduce how much of it you have. Bacteria tends to have a negative connotation and that’s for a reason. Many bacteria types are the reasons infections, diseases and health problems exist. They invade a person’s body and cause disease and illness.


    When it comes to your mouth bacteria, some types are proven to lead to major oral health problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, oral sores and more. The National Institutes of Health report that even respiratory conditions and infections link straight back to your mouth bacteria, because virus or disease-causing bacterias can be breathed into the lungs where they stay and multiply. Mouth bacteria has to be in your mouth because many types help in the process of digestion. However, it’s the bacteria that not only cause illness, but the ones that cause decay and disease and your mouth that you want to be careful about.


    Mouth Bacteria that Cause Cavities

    When you eat, you must be conscious of the foods you are putting into your mouth. That’s because many foods contain sugar. Sugar is a problem for your teeth because sugar particles mix with some of your mouth bacteria. When they mix, the combination creates a sticky and clear substance, which is what you know as plaque. Plaque also becomes very acidic when it is made from bacteria and sugar. When it sticks to your teeth along the gumline, that acid will settle on your tooth enamel and work to weaken the surface.


    Eating one dessert might not give you a cavity. However, if you are constantly eating and skipping on your brushing and flossing at the same time, then you need to worry. Plaque can’t be removed with simply drinking water. Many people actually are not drinking water as they should, but are opting for sodas and juices (which are also acidic), as well as sugary juices. Those drinks intensify how weak your tooth enamel is getting.


    If you don’t brush away plaque, it has a lot of time to sit on enamel until it finally breaks down the minerals of your teeth. When breakdown starts to happen, it’s known as decay and that decay will spread. This is how a cavity forms. When decay sinks further inside a tooth, it can get to the center where there are nerves and blood vessels and soft tissues. That mouth bacteria that is now plaque will cause infection in that innermost part of the tooth. At that stage, root canals or tooth extractions may be the only way to get rid of the decay.


    A toothbrush with toothpaste on it with floss and mouthwash in the background.

    So What Can You Do?

    The key to mouth bacteria is controlling how much you have and doing all that you can to ensure you have the best kind that will help your health. You can do that through:

    • Brushing your teeth every single day, at least twice a day, for two minutes at a time, as recommended by the American Dental Association. Brush your teeth (including your tongue) after every meal to reduce your mouth bacteria even more.
    • Floss your teeth 1-2 times a day. This is key so that you don’t miss almost half of your tooth surfaces. Plaque and mouth bacteria loves to hang out in between the teeth.
    • Use fluoride products. Most water sources are fluoridated, or enriched with a mineral that helps shield the teeth from decay-causing bacteria. Many dental products have this too.
    • Use mouthwash. Many mouthwashes kill decay-causing bacteria and bacteria that will give you bad breath. You can also find many fluoridated mouthwashes.
    • Visit the dentist at least twice a year for your biannual comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. A dentist can spot the signs of poor oral hygiene or signs of decay.

    For more tips on what your mouth bacteria does and how you can combat the bad kind, call Evanson DDS at (720) 409-0008!

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