As disgusting as it may sound, your mouth is home to hundreds of microorganisms. While there are about 34-72 species of bacteria in some people; there are also individuals that are host to more than 700 different strains,
with 50% of these have not been cultivated. Yes, your mouth is an ecosystem of bacteria and begin establishing their colony in your mouth from birth.
The Harmless, The Good and The Bad
Most of these bacteria will not cause harm to our health. Some are even beneficial as they help protect your gums and teeth, or helps you in digesting your food like the probiotics. And there are also those bad bacteria that can affect your health. But what we may not be aware of is that an imbalance in our oral microbiome can be linked to serious health problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), stomach cancer, cardiovascular condition, inflammation, and others.
Diet and poor oral health are the two major factors that can alter the balance in your oral microbiome. The good bacteria generally protect your mouth from oral problems. However, if you have a poor oral practice and unhealthy diet, acids from the foods you eat will accumulate in your mouth making it a desirable place for the bad bacteria to multiply. If the population of bad bacteria inside our mouth increases, this is the time that you will develop cavities and gum diseases.
The Harmful Bacteria in the Mouth
The two major harmful bacteria commonly found in the mouth are the Streptococcus mutans and the Porphyromonas gingivalis. Streptococcus mutans is a species of anaerobic microorganism found in your mouth, specifically in the biofilms. This is the number one initiator of tooth decay especially when you don’t brush your teeth or floss properly. Porphyromonas gingivalis, on the other hand, is an anaerobic bacterium that shows up during the beginning stages of a gum disease. It involves the pathogenesis of periodontitis which can result in tooth loss.
If the number of these pathogens increases brought by an imbalanced oral microbiome, they may transfer to your blood vessels and can be transported to the organs of your body such as the gut, the lungs, and liver.
Maintaining the Balance in Oral Microbiome
Today, there is still no plausible explanation as to how the harmless bacteria, the good bacteria and the bad bacteria influence each other. One thing is for sure is that the purpose of practicing good oral hygiene is not to remove the bad bacteria in your mouth. Instead, it will maintain the healthy balance of your oral microbiome.
The best way to maintain the balance of your oral microbiome is to practice proper oral hygiene. Make sure to floss and brush your teeth regularly and properly. Then eat a healthy diet; minimize the sugar and carbohydrates intake. Using mouthwash has shown to aid in restoring the balance of microorganisms in the oral cavity. Finally, visit your dentist regularly for your dental checkup. There is no better way to monitor the health of your oral microbiome than to have it checked by your dentist.