You know that you should brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day to wash away harmful bacteria, but how much do you know about the bacteria in your mouth? Some people do not realize that there are good bacteria, as well as bad. To broaden your knowledge of the guests in your mouth, Dr. Corbet Locke wants to share some interesting facts about oral bacteria.
Facts About Oral Bacteria
- At any given moment, there are between 10-50 billion bacteria inhabiting your oral cavity. Of the 75-100 different species of bacteria, only a few are harmful.
- The species of bacteria in your mouth behave like an ecological system, settling in separate areas. In other words, the bacteria on the tip of your tongue are different than the bacteria at the back of your tongue.
- The myth about a dog’s mouth being cleaner than a human’s has no basis in fact. Dogs and humans have the same amount of bacteria in their mouths; however, dog and cat saliva hold more than 100 different germs that can make you ill.
- Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by harmful bacteria, which can also lead to chronic inflammatory diseases throughout the body, including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Clients formerly believed that the bacteria themselves were the culprit, but researchers now believe that inflammation is the key factor.
- The colonies of bacteria in a healthy mouth are different than those in the mouth of someone with oral cancer. This provides hope that observing the bacteria in your mouth can help lead to early oral cancer diagnoses. However, the mouths of smokers and constant alcohol drinkers exhibit all kinds of benign abnormalities, which distort the results of bacterial analysis.
- The bacteria responsible for tooth decay, Streptococcus mutans, were not always harmful bacteria. S. mutans bacteria cause tooth decay by secreting harmful lactic acid in response to the digestion of refined sugars and carbohydrates. Before humans began refining sugar, S. mutans lived harmoniously with humans for thousands of years.
Understanding what happens inside of your mouth better prepares you to make informed decisions about your dental health. If you would like to learn more, or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Locke, contact our Waco dental office at (254) 776-4888. We welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.