Bacteria plays a huge role in our oral health! 700 different oral bacteria have been identified in
the human mouth with each person having up to 300 different varieties in their mouth at any
With so many bacteria in our mouths, it makes sense that these tiny organisms would have the
potential to either help or hurt our smiles. While many of these bacteria aren’t harmful, you do
have some good bacteria and some potentially bad bacteria in your mouth. Just how important
are these different kinds of bacteria to your oral health?
Oral Probiotics Begin the Digestion Process
Probiotics are helpful bacteria that can actually signal the digestion process to begin in our
bodies. Although present in our gut lining as well, probiotics also exist in the oral cavity. When
you chew, saliva is produced and these oral bacteria begin reactions that prepare the stomach
to receive food.
In fact, these oral probiotics may actually play a role in stopping tooth decay and gum disease:
when saliva is produced, it creates a buffer between food, bacteria, and plaque that can impact
your teeth. This means these harmful elements are less likely to hurt your smile when oral
probiotics are involved!
Good Bacteria Help Control Bad Breath
We actually need some of the oral bacteria in our mouths to help promote oral health. Bacteria
such as streptococcus salivarius K12 can actually help to stop the bacteria that make your
breath smell bad. Getting rid of the bacteria in our mouths isn’t possible without removing
some of the good bacteria that do their part to keep our smiles healthy.
Some experts even speculate that gut bacteria is influenced by oral bacteria, meaning an upset
of oral bacteria could trigger other issues in the body. This is similar to how oral bacteria in
plaque have been found in arterial plaque that negatively impacts the arteries leading to the
heart via inflammation.
Harmful Bacteria Cause Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Other oral bacteria are harmful to our teeth and gums. These include streptococcus mutans,
which is responsible for tooth decay, and porphyromonas gingivalis, which has been strongly
associated with gum disease.
Streptococcus mutans actually feeds on sugars and starches that are leftover in your mouth
from the food you eat and produce acid as a byproduct which can attack and harm healthy
tooth enamel. These bacteria are the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease and need to
be controlled in order to protect your smile!
How to Promote Healthy Oral Bacteria
Fortunately, our oral bacteria can be properly managed through healthy oral care habits.
Brushing and flossing help to remove food particles and plaque from in-between teeth that can
encourage harmful bacteria to grow. In addition, eating whole foods and eating processed
foods and sugar only occasionally can help promote healthy oral bacteria.
Visiting your dentist for professional cleanings and checkups can not only remove plaque that’s
built-up in your mouth, but also ensure negative bacteria don’t have a chance to progress into
tooth decay or gum disease. Managing oral bacteria can help the good bacteria to thrive and
keep the bad bacteria at bay.
Oral bacteria are great influencers of our oral health—but remember that not all bacteria are
bad. You can keep your oral bacteria healthy simply by brushing, flossing, and visiting your
dentist in addition to eating well. Having a healthy smile is simple when you take care of your
teeth and gums!