When it comes to dental health, our patients are usually most concerned with the health of their teeth and gums. But they often fail to take into account the root cause of dental issues: oral bacteria.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about oral bacteria, and how to protect your smile for years to come.
Breeding Ground for Bacteria
You’ll be surprised to learn that there are more than 700 different species of germs in your mouth, making it quite the breeding ground for bacteria. Don’t worry –– most germs are harmless and are digested along with the food you eat and eventually killed by stomach acid. The enzymes in saliva also help destroy bacteria and any threats they might pose to your smile.
There are some harmful germs that, if left unchecked, can create oral health problems. These kinds of bacteria attack tooth enamel, which invites tooth decay and even gum disease.
Establishing and practicing good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice per day and flossing daily is the best way to keep oral bacteria at bay.
Scientists at Colorado State University confirmed the importance of flossing to your dental health. After collecting cells from the mouths of study participants who claimed to brush their teeth, researchers found that the participants who flossed their teeth in addition to brushing had lower microbial diversity in their mouths than the participants who did not floss.
From that and other studies, we can assume that flossing significantly helps remove harmful oral bacteria that causes inflammation and disease.
How Oral Health Impacts Your Overall Health
We’ve established that brushing and flossing, along with the body’s natural defenses, keep bacteria in the mouth under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, certain medications like decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow and slow the body’s bacteria-fighting process.
Failing to fight oral bacteria can impact more than just your teeth. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease called periodontitis might play a role in some diseases. Other diseases like diabetes and HIV/AIDS can lower your body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.
Your oral health might contribute to the development of various diseases and conditions, including endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia.
How to Beat Oral Bacteria
The best way to beat oral bacteria is to practice healthy dental habits, including brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing daily.
However, even daily brushing and flossing remove only two-thirds of the plaque and bacteria on your teeth. That’s why keeping up with dental exams and cleanings with your general dentist is essential. During your biannual appointment, the hygienist will clean off plaque and remove bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.
The foods and drinks you consume can also impact the development of oral bacteria. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to eating and drinking:
- Prioritize eating high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Foods that are high in fiber work with oral saliva to keep teeth and gums clean. These include pears, strawberries, avocados, apples, raspberries, bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, artichokes, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts.
- Enjoy dairy products in moderation. Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products contain calcium and minerals that help protect and rebuild tooth enamel.
- Stick to drinking water and tea. Drink plenty of fresh water to rinse away food particles and keep oral tissues moist. Green and black teas can kill oral bacteria and acids that attack tooth enamel.
- Use fluoride when you can. Drink water with fluoride to strengthen teeth and brush with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Choose sugarless gum. Starches and sugars from foods join with harmful oral bacteria to attack tooth enamel and cause decay. Instead, choose to chew sugarless gum, which increases the flow of saliva in the mouth. Saliva naturally removes food particles from teeth and gums to keep them clean and healthy.
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Our team at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado believes everyone deserves a smile that lasts a lifetime. Entrusting your teeth to specialized experts is the best way to save your natural teeth and restore your smile.
When you arrive at one of our specialty dental offices in Colorado Springs or Pueblo, you will be warmly welcomed by our team who will answer any questions you may have and recommend the best treatment plan for your smile. Contact us today to learn how we can relieve your pain and restore your smile!