Our mouth is one of the unique parts of our body. It hosts a wild ecosystem, populated by several different living organisms that play a crucial role in maintaining a balance among the healthy oral tissues. The oral cavity consists of more than 600 different types of living microorganisms, including a range of germs, bacteria, and even fungi. Mouth germs are among the harmless living organisms in our mouth.
These tiny creatures are often digested along with food and killed in the stomach by the gastric acid. Unlike some of the oral bacteria that thrive on the food debris and damage the oral tissues, mouth germs maintain harmony in the mouth. Having germs in your mouth may seem unnatural. Therefore, it is essential to understand the significance of these microorganisms.
Moreover, you should be aware of the effects of these microorganisms on the oral tissues. Most of the times, mouth germs may not cause any damage to the dental tissues. However, you must always keep a check on your oral hygiene to protect your teeth and gums. Today’s article will highlight the significance of mouth germs and its effects on oral health.
What are mouth germs?
Mouth germs in more straightforward terms are the oral bacteria that form a thin layer of plaque on the tooth surface. Dental plaque is a sticky and colorless film of food deposits, debris, and oral bacteria. This layer gives you a fuzzy feeling when you move your tongue on the tooth surface. (1)
Mouth germs are typically harmless. They reside within the plaque layer in little crevices between the teeth. The plaque often builds up when sugary food particles are not cleaned properly from the tooth surface. Although, plaque can create several dental issues over time, having some germs in the mouth is a normal finding.
How do mouth germs affect oral health?
A big part of the mouth’s ecosystem or the human oral microbiome consists of over 6 billion bacteria. Clinical studies have discovered more than 600 different types of mouth germs that live on the tooth surface, tongue, and even gums. These germs multiply rapidly and form biofilms, which eventually gives rise to plaque and tartar.
Although the exact function of these 600 -700 species is unknown, they are undoubtedly alive and quietly meditate in the oral cavity. Like any other microorganism, if mouth germs aren’t cared for properly, they may cause damage to the oral tissues. (2)
Often these harmful bacteria mainly consist of streptococcus mutans. These bacteria thrive on the sugar and starchy carbohydrates that remain as food debris on the tooth surface. The bacteria ferment the food particles and produce acids that erode the tooth enamel.
Another type of mouth germ that can cause gum disease is porphyromonas gingivalis. Despite the harmful bacteria in the mouth, most of the mouth germs are helpful. They support the overall health and wellness of the oral cavity. (3)
What can you do to get rid of the microbes in the mouth?
It takes minimal efforts to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, in some cases, like pregnancy or diabetes, you may have to put in extra work to have good oral hygiene. Following are some of the steps you can take to get rid of the harmful mouth germs and maintain healthy teeth and gums –
Sugar and carbohydrates are cruel enemies of the oral tissues. Try to skip or limit the intake of food that contains white flour or sugar. Carb-fueled bacteria rapidly multiply in the mouth to form the biofilm, also known as plaque.
About 90% of the dental problems are caused by bacterial plaque. The bacterial acids often weaken the teeth and cause dental caries. In addition to sugary food, acidic food substances such as soda, citrus juices, pickles, and wine can double the damage to the teeth. (4)
If you are consuming any of the food mentioned above, make sure to rinse your mouth after eating. Hold off on brushing for at least one hour after the consumption of acidic food or beverage to avoid damage to the enamel.
Dry mouth often favors an increase in plaque and bacterial growth in the mouth. Furthermore, it increases the risk of tooth decay and enamel erosion. Drinking plenty of water and rinsing your mouth after eating will help to keep the mouth clean and free from food debris.
Oral health care routine
- Simple oral health care routine ensures a plaque fee mouth. Brush your teeth in a circular motion for two minutes, two times a day. Brushing in a circular motion eliminates damage to the tooth enamel. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and replace it every three to four months.
- If you are recovering from a cold or flu, replace your toothbrush immediately.
- Flossing may seem a tedious process; however, it is beneficial in removing the hidden plaque and bacteria between the teeth.
- You can add an antibacterial mouthwash to your oral health care routine to maximize oral hygiene and have a fresh minty breath. (5)
Just like your routine home care, regular dental appointments are essential to keep a check on your oral health and condition. Any signs of dental decay or gum disease can be detected at an early stage and treated appropriately. Additionally, your dentist can guide you to bring beneficial changes to your oral health routine if necessary.
Take away message
When you hear the word bacteria, you often think about deadly microorganisms and associated diseases. However, there are several types of friendly bacteria in our mouth that are harmless. Several studies have proven that our mouth consists of 600-700 different types of living microorganism. Most of them are friendly to the oral environment and help to maintain a balance in the mouth.
Such microorganisms are called as mouth germs. Mouth germs are associated with the plaque – the sticky, colorless layer that is formed on the surface of the tooth. Mouth germs mainly reside on the tooth surface or hide in the crevices between the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth often feeds on sugars and carbohydrates. Typically, the mouth germs cause no damage to the dental tissues. However, consumption of sugary food, acidic beverages, and food rich in carbohydrate may aggravate the decay-causing bacteria to multiply and for cavities in the teeth.
It is essential to maintain your oral hygiene to ensure total oral health. Follow good oral health care routine, which includes brushing and flossing. Cut back on sweets and carbohydrates, instead switch to fresh fruits and vegetable diet. Rinse your mouth after eating to clean the tooth surface. Follow up your dental appointments to keep a regular check on your oral health and condition.