People know about tooth plaque because they brush or floss it off of their teeth every day. They can see it, but they don’t necessarily understand what it is. In this blog we will talk about oral bacteria, how it’s related to plaque, and how it can impact your oral health.
What Are Bacteria Colonies?
When you open your mouth, you see your teeth and tongue and maybe some particles if you forgot to floss (Reminder: floss!). You probably do not realize it, but there’s a realm of life you cannot see. Whole colonies exist there. There are around 700 species of microbes that live in your mouth, including bacteria, fungi, and others.
Not all microbes are harmful to your health. Some bacteria are good, in fact, and work to keep the bad bacteria in check. They don’t all live in the same places either. Some microbes live on your tongue. Some live on your teeth, and others prefer to exist in the space between your teeth and your gums. There they form communities with other microbes and work to protect themselves by creating sticky barriers called matrixes. The matrix in plaque is hard to remove for this reason. Bad bacteria live, eat, and reproduce, all the while feasting on the sugars that enter your mouth and producing acids that can eat away at your teeth if you don’t take care of them.
Types of Oral Bacteria in Your Mouth
The most common and harmful oral bacteria in your mouth is streptococcus mutans. This is the bacteria that lives on the surface of your teeth, feeds on sugars and starches, and produces acid that erodes away your tooth enamel. This is the bacteria responsible for your cavities.
A second type of bacteria is called porphyromonas gingivalis. The presence of this bacteria is strongly correlated with periodontitis. This is “a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth.” Untreated, it can lead to loose teeth or tooth loss. It can also be quite painful.
Controlling Oral Bacteria
You can’t completely eliminate bacteria in your mouth. You wouldn’t even want to as some of it is responsible for helping digest your food. With the proper oral hygiene habits, you can manage bacteria to keep it from harming your teeth and gums. If you want to know how you can do this, it’s simple:
- Brush your teeth twice daily
- Floss daily
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash
- Avoid eating or drinking starchy and sugary foods and drinks
- Eat fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha
- Eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products
- Chew sugar-free gum
If you’re concerned about the oral bacteria in your mouth or any problems that you may have, talk to your dentist at your next dental checkup. He can advise you on how you can improve your oral health so you can live pain free with a beautiful smile for many years to come.