Are All Oral Bacteria Bad?
A healthy mouth has a balance of good and bad bacteria.
When it comes to taking care of your teeth and gums, you hear a whole lot about fighting the effects of bad bacteria like S. mutans. These bacteria feed on sugars in your diet and produce acid that can erode tooth enamel and irritate gums—perhaps to the point where you develop a cavity, get a severe gum disease infection, or actually lose a tooth.
So you might wonder…
…Shouldn’t I try to clean all the bacteria out of my mouth?
The fact of the matter is that not all oral bacteria are bad. Many types of oral bacteria are actually beneficial or even essential to maintaining a healthy mouth.
Why We Need Good Oral Bacteria
The mouth is a very attractive environment for microbes. It’s warm, moist, rich in nutrients, and generally has a favorable pH. This means that some type of oral bacteria is always going to want to live there. If you completely sterilized your entire mouth, it would not be long before some microbes recolonized it. And these microbes might not be very nice. It is much better to leave populations of good oral bacteria in place as a protection against colonization by bad bacteria.
Some types of oral bacteria, such as F. nucleatum, can actually produce proteins that help actively defend the lining of the mouth against bad bacteria, fungi, and viruses. However, when it comes to oral bacteria matters are seldom black and white—if F. nucleatum is permitted to leave the mouth and enter the bloodstream, it can have negative health effects.
Don’t Kill Bacteria, Control Bacteria
In most cases, oral bacteria only become a problem when they are allowed to linger too long in the wrong places. For example, it is very important to remove biofilm from teeth daily to prevent it from hardening into tartar. You don’t have to kill the bacteria to accomplish this—you just have to dislodge them by brushing your teeth.
Bacteria—and their waste products—also need to be removed daily from the spaces between teeth and beneath the gum line. This helps prevent the development of tooth decay and gum disease.
Another way you can help control the balance of good and bad bacteria in your mouth is by controlling their environment. If you eat lots of refined sugars and carbs, your mouth’s pH will fluctuate into the more acidic range more often, encouraging the growth of acid-tolerant bad bacteria like S. mutans. But if you eat healthier and maintain a normal pH, you will be more likely to have a healthy balance of microbes in your mouth.
Need Help Controlling Oral Bacteria?
If you have gum disease, this is a sure sign that your mouth is overrun by bad bacteria. Fortunately, coming for a dental cleaning at California Dental Group can help. We can provide a deep cleaning to rout out the bad bacteria from your gum pockets and pave the way for the restoration of a healthy microbial balance. Call now to request an appointment.