Bacteria Versus Your Mouth

March 10, 2020

A wide range of bacteria populate both the interior of the human body and the outside world. Some of these bacteria thrive on the accumulated food and saliva in your mouth, a situation that can escalate into chronic dental problems.

The more clearly you understand the relationship bacteria and oral health, the more effectively you can safeguard your teeth and gums for a lifetime of comfortable chewing and optimal wellness. Here are some important aspects of the ongoing battle between bacteria and your mouth.

Tartar Attracts Bacteria

When you eat, the proteins in your saliva mingle with particles of food to create a sticky substance known as plaque. This substance attracts bacteria as a food source. Fortunately, you can remove plaque fairly easily through regular dental hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing.

The trouble comes when plaque remains on the teeth and gums long enough to harden. This hardened material, tartar, does not respond to brushing or flossing, requiring professional cleaning techniques instead. Tartar may lie both above and below the gum line, attracting more and more bacteria over time.

Bacteria Leads to Periodontal Disease

Your body doesn’t like potentially dangerous foreign invaders such as bacteria. It addresses the threat by issuing an inflammatory response against the bacteria in and around the gum tissues. This response, however, can do more damage to the gums than to your mouth’s bacterial population.

Chronic gum inflammation can cause irritation around the gum line known as gingivitis. If the inflammation continues unchecked, it can actually destroy the tissues that anchor the teeth to their sockets. This condition, known as periodontal disease, can eventually cause tooth loss without proper treatment.

Dental Treatment Stops Bacteria in Its Tracks

If you suffer from gingivitis or periodontal disease, the right dental care can put the brakes on any bacterial infiltration. Immediate treatment for gingivitis allows the gums to return to health. Damage from periodontal disease may remain, but at least you’ll have stopped the problem from getting worse.

Your teeth may need a deep cleaning to get rid of accumulated tartar. A procedure called root planing and scaling can remove the tartar below the gum line while also polishing the tooth surfaces (thus making them less bacteria-friendly). The pockets around the teeth then receive an antibiotic gel.

Preventative Measures Keep Bacteria at Bay

The most effective way to win the battle against oral bacteria is to keep that bacteria from getting a foothold in the first place. Schedule dental checkups and cleanings every six months to make sure that your teeth and gums can’t collect large amounts of tartar. Between visits, brush your teeth twice a day, using a dentist-recommended brushing technique.

Flossing matters just as much as brushing in the fight against bacterial gum disease. Get into the habit of flossing every day. It makes sense to schedule these flossing sessions right after a bedtime tooth brushing (assuming that you’ll resist the temptation to eat anything until the next morning).

Your daytime eating and drinking preferences also affect your oral bacteria. The sugars found in so many foods, beverages, and snacks (including healthy products such as fruit juice) offer a potent energy source for bacteria. Sticky, starchy foods aggravate this problem by clinging to teeth.

Think carefully about what you eat and drink, planning your grocery list accordingly. You might start by swapping sugar for non-sugar sweeteners that won’t promote tooth decay or gum disease. One such product, xylitol, may even prevent oral bacteria from thriving.
Other dietary changes might include reducing your consumption of starchy foods and replacing them with more tooth-healthy menu options. Foods that appear to promote dental health include cheese, yogurt, nuts, and raw vegetables.

By recognizing the dangers of oral bacteria and taking the appropriate steps to discourage their growth, you can keep your teeth and protect your health for many years to come. Gain the early advantage in your fight by contacting Vanyo Dentistry today and scheduling a dental exam and cleaning.