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Harmful Bacteria

Not all bacteria in your mouth are harmful – many of them can be actually beneficial, but two types of bacteria in particular can play havoc with your teeth and gums, so it is wise to know about them and how to manage them if and when they invade your mouth.

Beneficial bacteria

An astonishing 700 odd different species of bacteria have been detected in people’s mouths, but most people’s mouths are only home to between 30 and 70 different types. Some of the beneficial ones are known as probiotics. They help in the initial digestion of food while it is still in the mouth. Other beneficial bacteria actually help to provide a defence against the invasion of harmful bacteria, but they don’t always succeed. That’s when the nastier bacteria can get the upper hand.

Harmful bacteria

The two main types of harmful bacteria are Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis. Not everyone gets both types of harmful bacteria at the same time, but when either strand turns up it’s hard to get rid of them. Normally, they can be managed by regular dental hygiene – brushing your teeth and flossing at least twice a day and avoiding the sort of food that these bacteria thrive on.

Steptococcus is a very common type of harmful bacteria. It lives in the mouth and feeds on sugary liquids and foodstuffs, as well as other highly processed food which passes down your gullet. Streptococcus doesn’t actually feed on live tissue, which is a blessing, but their waste products include corrosive acids that slowly dissolve the protective enamel coating on the outside of the teeth, as well as the dentine just inside if a cavity starts to form. This type of bacteria is the main agent responsible for tooth decay in the mouth.

Porphyromonas gingivitis can prove to be a nastier invader than Streptococcus, as it attacks the gums and can even start to eat away the bone that supports the teeth. It is a major cause of gum disease or gingivitis. If the gum disease is not treated in time, it can develop into periodontitis, which is a more serious infection of the gums and supporting tissue. This should be avoided at all costs and you will need treatment by your Burlington, Ontario dentist if you develop serious gum disease at any stage.

Management of harmful bacteria

Harmful bacteria can be contained within manageable limits by careful choice of diet and brushing and flossing after meals. The use of an antiseptic mouth wash or rinse can also help to keep the number of harmful bacteria within manageable limits.