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4 odd facts about oral bacteria
Human body gives home not only to one single life. There are billions of microorganisms in our body that make up a so-called microbiome that can be divided into several smaller microbiomes. These ecosystems play an important role in our health.
There is for instance, the microbiome of the stomach, which helps in digestion, while on the other hand, according to some researchers it may also help reveal the mysteries of obesity. By studying the microbiome of the skin, we can fight various skin issues (eczema, acne, etc.).
Naturally, there is also a microbiome in the mouth that affects the health of teeth and gum. Roughly, 700 different bacteria reside in our mouths, about which experts have discovered some really interesting facts owing to research to date. Today we will list some of these.
1. Human mouth has given home to billions of bacteria since birth
The microbiome of the mouth includes bacteria that live in the mouth and their genes. Although it forms a separate microbiome (as do the bacteria that live in the stomach), each separate ecosystem interacts with each other, and we are just beginning to truly understand these relationships.
Every time we drink a glass of water, we swallow millions of bacteria. And every time we eat something or kiss our partner, other bacteria get into our mouths, as well. But not all of these “visitors” will stay long – only few of them stop here and start growing.
Although experts are still exploring what the microbiome of the mouth is made up of (and why only a few foreign bacteria survive in it), one thing is sure: the microbiome starts developing almost at the first moment of birth. This process is then influenced by various factors, such as when our primary and secondary dentition appears.
It has already been demonstrated that the health of mothers’ mouths has a serious effect on the microbiome of infants’ mouths. If a mother smoked before giving birth or had gum disease, it is more likely that the baby will be born with more pathogens in her mouth, which will later increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
2. Diet, oral hygiene, and health problems also affect the microbiome of the mouth
More than 700 different species of bacteria live in the mouth. The ecosystem of the oral microbiome also includes healthy, beneficial bacteria that help protect mouth health (e.g. try to prevent tooth decay). Unfortunately, there are also harmful bacteria that are responsible for mouth diseases and dental cavities.
All of these bacteria make up a layer called biofilm, known as plaque by most people. This is the slimy layer that can be felt on teeth after waking up in the morning.
If unbalanced eating and / or neglect of oral hygiene disrupts the balance of these bacteria, harmful bacteria may spread in the human mouth and cause bad breath, cavities, gum disease and even tooth loss.
Scientists are still trying to find out how these bacteria communicate with each other and how they affect each other’s functioning. Some results suggest that certain mouthwashes may give an advantage for beneficial bacteria in the mouth.
3. Oral health also affects the rest of the body
Human mouth is not only a nutritional but also a health gateway to the rest of the body. Therefore, if pathogens spread in our mouths, they can enter the bloodstream and easily get to the rest of the body.
When small blood vessels in the gums are damaged by pathogens or an existing gum disease, bacteria may enter the bloodstream. Though the immune system can handle some of them, some harmful species have already been considered to be related to various diseases when reaching different organs in the body. Examples of such diseases are diabetes, heart diseases, problems during pregnancy, Alzheimer's disease, or even depression. However, it is not yet certain that these issues were directly caused by these bacteria.
Similarly, health problems in certain parts of the body may affect oral health. For example, people with diabetes are more prone to periodontal disease.
4. We can do much to keep the microbiome in our mouth healthy
With the advancement of medicine, we are learning more and more about how we can maintain the health of our mouth. For example, some foods or probiotics can have a positive effect on its ecosystem. An example is black raspberry, which contains phyto-compounds that according to experts may help relieve chronic inflammation and prevent early stages of cancer.
Of course, it is also very important to pay attention to proper oral hygiene, since in a regularly and properly cleaned mouth, harmful bacteria have a much lower chance of spreading. For this, it is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day and use floss once, and it is of course worth avoiding harmful habits such as smoking. Also, do not forget about dental screenings every six months and dental hygiene treatment.
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