microbe photo

Photo by NIAID

Everybody knows that our mouth is filled with plaque. It’s one of the first things that you learn about when you learn dental hygiene– to protect your mouth, you’ve got to keep your plaque in check!

What does ‘plaque’ actually mean?

Well, for starters, although we’ve told you that your mouth is full of microbes, we haven’t been particularly clear. Your mouth is full of a whole bunch of different microbes. According to some studies, any given mouth can have anywhere from five hundred to a thousand different types of bacteria! That’s not even mentioning the average of 75 different types of fungi, viruses and other microscopic organisms that call our mouths home.

All of this might sound a little scary, but don’t worry! For the most part, the microorganisms in our mouth are supposed to be there. We have a strong, useful ecosystem of microbes in our mouths, just like in our digestive system. A lot of the bacteria in our mouths is there to help us by keeping harmful microbes out! This can help our overall dental health, and reduce bad breath. The problems come when we don’t manage our mouth microbes properly– for instance, when we eat a lot of sugar, the population of cavity-causing bacteria skyrockets (they like eating sugar, too!) Properly brushing, flossing, and cleaning your mouth removes the excess of bacteria and prevents them from starting to break down our enamel.

But who is behind our cavities?

Speaking of cavity-causing bacteria, did you know that we’ve narrowed the cause down to just a couple of species? The biggest causes of cavities are the Mutans Streptococci, a species of bacteria that consume simple sugars and produce acid. That acid wears away at the enamel of our teeth, and if the damage builds up past what our bodies can replace, we start to get cavities!

Sorry. We didn’t mean to sound so excited about that. We just think this subject is really interesting!

If you’re worried about the microbes in your mouth, fear not! The goal of dental hygiene is to keep those little critters under control. That’s why we brush our teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, floss, and go to the dentist– to make sure the helpful microbes can stay helpful, and keep the rest of them out! Without regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist, microbes can get the better of our teeth and gums. When that happens, you run the risk of painful–and costly–complications.

Want to keep those little guys from doing too much damage? Contact us to schedule an appointment! We know all the tricks to keep mouth bacteria clean, healthy, and under control.