The word “bacteria” is generally associated with the word “yuck!” But the truth is that bacteria are some of the most important organisms for our bodies and mouths. Nurturing these good bacteria, rather than just simply trying to “kill” the bad, is vital for a healthy mouth. What do good bacteria do in our mouths?
Having a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria will prevent bad bacteria that can cause diseases or tooth decay from taking over, help keep our breath fresh, inhibit plaque growth, and provide a healthy path for our food to begin travel into our digestive tract. Eating well, brushing, and flossing can all promote good bacteria. You can also help promote the good bacteria in your mouth by making sure you get enough probiotics. Eat yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, kefir, and soft cheeses. Take a quality supplement when you can’t get these things.
Prevents Oral Diseases
Bad bacteria in our mouths can lead to different dental diseases such as periodontal disease (gum disease) and tooth decay, it’s true. Many people think you need to “get rid of” these bad bacteria so that they won’t colonize in your mouth and cause you health problems. This isn’t true, as good bacteria have many functions in our mouths and can regulate the bad. The average person has as many as 20 billion different bacteria in their mouths. It’s impossible to have a sterile mouth, nor should you want one. These good bacteria can help you maintain excellent oral health and prevent disease!
Aids in Digestion
It’s long been said that a healthy gut is vital for a healthy body, and your digestive process begins with
your mouth! There are good bacteria in your mouth that immediately start breaking down food as soon as you start eating. This is where is becomes more important than ever to eat a healthy diet. Refined sugars can easily upset the balance of good and bad bacteria in your mouth, and therefore in your gut, where the food your friendly bacteria helped digest will travel. Eating healthy foods can promote oral health!
Helps Immune System
In many ways, our mouth is considered our body’s first line of defense. When the balance of good and bad bacteria is damaged, our immune system is weakened as the good bacteria are not there to combat the bad bacteria and help our body stay healthy. The same thing can also happen when you use harsh mouthwashes, such as those that claim to “kill” bacteria or contain alcohol. These mouth rinses kill the good bacteria as well as the bad, and this leaves more room for unregulated bad bacteria to grow, therefore damaging our oral health and our immune system.
Next time you think about all those bacteria in your mouth, don’t think they’re these negative things that you need to get rid of. Remember that good bacteria play a vital role in your oral and physical health, and keep your mouth healthy by promoting their existence with healthy dental practices!