Bacteria: The Things that Live in Your Mouth

Posted on by Althea Earwood

Dentist in ChristchurchIt is nearly impossible to talk about dentistry without talking about the bacteria that lives inside your mouth. After all, bacteria is the cause behind a lot of our dental problems, including cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.

Dentistry With A Smile, a Christchurch dental practice, stresses the importance of good oral hygiene and regular cleaning to prevent the formation of plaque and dental caries. Allowing the bad bacteria in the mouth to flourish will only allow oral disease to take hold.

Bad Bacteria

There are over 700 strains of bacteria living in the mouth, but most people only have about 75 species of them living in their mouth at any given time. The types of bacteria in the mouth are dependent on what you eat, your environment, as well as genetics.

Potentially harmful bacteria will often find itself inside your mouth, where it competes with other types of bacteria. Streptococcus mutans is one of the strains that contribute to tooth decay. As they thrive inside the mouth and feed on sugars, they emit an acid which eventually weakens the enamel.

Another bad bacterium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is the culprit behind periodontitis, which may lead to gum inflammation and tooth loss when not kept in check.

Good Bacteria

Of course, the oral cavity is also a host to good bacteria, which play a role in keeping the mouth healthy. These bacterial strains are commonly known as probiotics, which are beneficial to humans. Some of the strains include Lactobacillus salivarius, which lives in our saliva, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, a common strain found in the mouth and on the rest of the human body.

Many people are first exposed to these good bacteria during early childhood, especially during breastfeeding, when the bacteria from the mother transfer to the child. These probiotics compete with the bad bacteria in the body, preventing infections and fungal overgrowths.

The bacteria living in your mouth are an essential part of your health. It is important to keep the bad bacteria in check by regularly brushing your teeth and flossing, while cultivating the good bacteria by eating healthy and nutritious food.

About the Author

Althea Earwood is a Clinical Instructor at a medical university in San Francisco. Prior to this, she works as a nurse at a hospital in New Jersey.