Hundreds of different bacterial species can live in the human mouth. While you likely don’t have each and every species inhabiting the area around your teeth and tongue, you probably have one to two hundred at a time.
While bacteria are the big bad that can cause cavities and plenty of dental dilemmas, they are also an essential part of the oral environment. Your mouth supports the growth of so many species of outside invaders for a reason.
Before you try to wash away each and every species that’s made its way around your teeth, take a look at what you need to know about the good and bad of oral bacteria.
Where Do Oral Bacteria Come From?
Like other types of bacteria, the oral kind come from the outside world. Oral bacteria aren’t present in your mouth before birth, but most infants are quick to pick up these microbes from mom during the childbirth process. As you grow and are exposed to more people, stressors, medications like antibiotics, and illnesses, the bacterial population shifts and changes.
Are Oral Bacteria Bad?
In general, most people characterize bacteria as bad. Your mouth certainly has plenty of microbes that can cause potentially serious issues. The sticky film that can coat your teeth (called plaque) contains bacteria. The bacteria feed on the sugars that you eat. The more carbohydrates you have, the more plaque you’ll find in your mouth, unless you brush, floss, and wash the sticky stuff away.
Even though most of the time you won’t even notice the bacteria in your mouth, when they grow out of control, you will likely start to notice issues. Dental caries (also known as cavities) are the common result of too much sugar and too many bacteria. As the bacteria digest their food, they produces acids that eat away at the enamel.
How Do You Balance the Oral Bacteria?
Brushing and flossing are primary ways to remove the bacterial overgrowth and reduce the risk of developing cavities. Along with these regular dental activities, some people choose to use mouthwash. While in some cases mouthwashes can reduce the amount of cavity-causing oral bacteria, it can also throw off the balance of your mouth’s microbes.
Not all bacteria are bad or disease-causing. This is especially true of the bacteria in your gut. Without the good intestinal bacteria, your body feels off-balance. The result is often illness or, at the very least, discomfort.
While you don’t need supplements (such as the ones available to restore intestinal health) to give your mouth bacterial balance, you also don’t need to decimate the entire colony. Some research indicates that a blanket type of bacterial destruction can throw off oral balance — creating a less-than-ideal oral environment.
How Do You Care for Your Mouth?
What does the idea of balancing your oral bacteria really mean? To start with, it doesn’t mean that you should abandon your dental routine. You should absolutely brush at least twice a day for two minutes a time. Along with morning and night brushing, cleaning your teeth after meals (especially those that contain sugar) can help to stop the bad bacteria from taking over and causing dental decay.
Instead of trying to destroy each and every mouth microbe, stick to your regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-up schedule. Don’t worry about brushing dozens of times a day or constantly flushing your mouth with mouthwashes containing alcohol. If you overdo your dental self-care, you can risk sore gums and a bacterial imbalance.
If you’re confused about your mouths bacteria content or need help creating balance between the good and bad, talk to your dentist. The professional is there to help.
Do you need a new dentist for your next check-up? Contact Crest Hill Family Dental for more information.