Oral Bacteria — Good or Bad?
Bacteria and Your Mouth
When you think of the word bacteria, the idea of germs probably comes to mind. And in the world of COVID-19 and lingering concerns of the pandemic, not to mention that we’re now entering flu and cold season, you’re probably thinking about practices like hand-washing, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and more. But you might be surprised to know that not all bacteria are bad. Some good bacteria in your mouth are responsible for helping keep harmful germs under control. Read on to understand the importance of good oral bacteria and how to keep an optimal balance in your mouth.
What You Need to Know About Good Oral Bacteria
Your mouth’s health depends on the bacteria that live inside your mouth. And this bacteria must maintain an optimal balance. Good oral bacteria keeps bad bacteria in line and helps promote healthy teeth, healthy gums, and fresh breath. But when the harmful bacteria wins, you are at increased risk of developing periodontal disease and tooth decay. Not only that, but bad bacteria causes halitosis, which means stinky breath, and that’s no fun for you or the people in close contact with you.
Your Mouth Needs Good Bacteria
Good bacteria is important as it helps break down the food you eat and kill off the bad bacteria that can cause oral health issues. Good bacteria does this by creating proteins that control the growth of bad bacteria. When you have enough good bacteria in your mouth, your breath smells better too. Not only that, but you’ll have fewer occurrences of dry mouth, and you’ll be less likely to develop cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.
How to Encourage Good Oral Bacteria
Based on what you just read, it only makes sense that you would want to encourage the growth of good oral bacteria, right? Of course, you would. But how exactly can you ensure that you grow more good bacteria and keep that bad bacteria at bay? Check out this list of ways that you can encourage the growth of good bacteria in your mouth.
1. Cut down on sugar
Cutting down on sugar is good for you for a variety of reasons. Not only is sugar bad for you in that it is linked to higher blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and weight gain, but it’s also bad for your teeth. Too much sugar can encourage the growth of Streptococcus mutans which contributes to cavities and gum disease.
2. Avoid acidic beverages
Acidic beverages like soda and coffee aren’t so good for your teeth either. Acidic beverages wear away the enamel that protects your teeth. Some research has suggested that dark sodas are also linked to lower bone density. Further, acidic drinks can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, liver problems, and heart disease. This can change the appearance of your teeth, creating a pathway for bacteria that can lead to cavities or other infections.
3. Eat more plant-based foods
We’re not suggesting that you need to go all-vegetarian or that you need to adopt a vegan diet, but plant-based foods do indeed promote a more balanced oral environment. Certain vegetables, carrots, and broccoli are good for your teeth. These crisp veggies and fruits help clean plaque off your teeth and freshen your breath. Not only that, they help protect your gums and tissues from bacterial infection and cell damage.
4. Refrain from the use of tobacco products
If you smoke or use tobacco products, now is the time to stop. Smoking can upset the balance of microorganisms in your mouth and is just one of the many reasons to kick the habit altogether. Smoking is highly correlated with the development of gum disease as it can lead to the growth of bacteria under your gums. When these germs stay under your teeth for too long, plaque builds up and tarter develops.
The Results of Bad Oral Bacteria
As with any part of your body, you can develop an infection in your mouth and gums caused by bacteria. But some oral conditions are worse than others. When you develop harmful oral bacteria that gets out of control, you are more susceptible to the following oral illnesses:
- Periodontal disease
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease
- Canker sores
- Oral herpes
The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene
Ultimately, the best way to balance good and bad bacteria in your mouth is to practice good oral hygiene. Many patients don’t realize that poor dental health can take a toll on the rest of our bodies as well. When we fail to take care of our mouths, we can develop health complications such as:
- Bacterial Pneumonia
- Infective Endocarditis
- Pregnancy Complications
- Low Birth Weight
Regular tooth brushing twice per day, flossing once per day, and rinsing with a fluoridated mouthwash, in addition to regular dental check-ups, is the key to a happy and healthy mouth.
Request an Appointment with Tomasik Family Dental
If you are overdue for a dental visit or you are concerned about oral bacteria in your mouth, now is the time to request an appointment with the best dentist in Bee Cave. We know that it can be challenging to find a good dentist, and we know what to look out for in your search for a family dentist. So let us show you why we’re different. During your appointment, we’ll talk to you about your risks of developing bad bacteria in your mouth, what a microbiome is, and what you can do to protect your oral health.
We can’t wait to see you!