You already know that excess mouth bacteria — or at least, the wrong kind — causes problems like cavities. But these oral germs can also wreak havoc in ways you didn’t suspect. That’s why it’s so important to get rid of unhealthy mouth bacteria.
What Causes Mouth Bacteria
For most people, what you put in your mouth, as well as what type of oral hygiene you practice, are the two most important factors when it comes to keeping a healthy balance of mouth bacteria.
Sugary foods and drinks are the biggest culprits in creating large quantities of mouth bacteria. That’s because harmful bacteria like Streptococcus mutans multiply quickly when fed with sugar. Starchy foods can also cause rapid growth. What time of day that you indulge in these snacks and sodas also plays a part, because all-day snacking without access to a toothbrush gives bacteria plenty of time to chow down on the sugar content in your mouth.
Of course, how often — and how well — you clean your mouth affects how much damage your “sweet tooth” does to your actual teeth.
Failure to floss and brush properly will allow food debris and sugars to linger in your mouth long enough for unhealthy bacteria to flourish.
Other factors may contribute to unhealthy mouth bacteria. These include sinus problems and immune system disorders that cause dry mouth. In addition, conditions such as HIV/AIDS which produce lesions, promote more unhealthy than healthy oral bacteria. Diabetes, which results in irregular blood sugar levels, can also cause oral problems.
Why the “Bad Guys” are Dangerous
The consequences of unhealthy mouth bacteria include the ones you probably know about — cavities, enamel erosion, tooth loss and damage to the gums.
But poor oral health can also lead to serious conditions in other parts of your body, due to toxins that mouth bacteria release into your bloodstream. This toxin discharge has been linked to heart disease, pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis and even degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.
How to Fight Back
Flossing removes food sources that linger between your teeth. If it’s not convenient to do it more than once a day, make sure to floss before going to bed, so that bacteria doesn’t flourish overnight.
Of course, frequent and thorough brushing is also crucial for taking away sugary coatings lingering on tooth surfaces, as well as on your tongue and other parts of your mouth.
If your dentist suggests you need more protection, consider an antibacterial mouthwash. Consult with a dental professional about this step, however, because overdoing it with bacterial killers can also kill “good” germs.
If brushing and flossing don’t seem to be cutting it, make changes to your diet. Along with cutting back on sugary soda and juice, as well as sweet treats, consider adding more fibrous foods to your diet. Fresh fruits and veggies like apples, carrots and celery act like “brooms” to remove food debris. They also promoting bacteria-fighting saliva. In addition, yogurt contributes healthy probiotic bacteria, while cheese promotes healthy pH levels.
Have additional concerns? Contact our office to schedule a checkup or emergency visit.