Oral Bacteria: The Good, the Bad and the Beneficial

Did you know that your mouth could contain over 700 species of bacteria? Like a pond in a wood, your mouth is a thriving biome of biological activity, with hundreds of millions of lifeforms all living side by side. However, while some of these tiny microbes are good, and some are actually beneficial, others can harm your teeth and gums.

Fortunately, since these microbes live in your mouth, you do have some control over which species you allow to thrive. Here are just several of the species of bacteria that live in your mouth.

The Good: The Bacteria in a Healthy Mouth

After you brush and floss your teeth in the morning, the good strains of bacteria are able to flourish in the clean and acid-free environment. Most of these good or benign species live on your tongue. But some of these good bacteria also thrive on the surfaces of your teeth in healthy, forming clear biofilms that help them cling to the smooth surface.

However, throughout the day, and depending on your diet, harmful strains of bacteria begin to multiply. These bad strains of bacteria are able to thrive in acidic environments, unlike the good strains of bacteria, which struggle in dirty, acidic environments.

The Bad: Streptococcus Mutans and Corynebacterium

One of the worst species of bacteria that take over throughout the day, especially if your diet is high in sugar, is streptococcus mutans. This nasty critter is the main cause of tooth decay. As the environment in your mouth turns acidic during the day, streptococcus mutans begins to take over the biofilms of the good bacteria on your teeth. They then secrete acid that erodes enamel.

Another bad strain of bacteria is Corynebacterium, a species that contributes to the formation of plaque on your teeth, tongue and gums. Plaque causes gum disease, so is not something you want forming on your teeth and gums.

The Beneficial: A12 and K12

Fortunately, if you drink plenty of water throughout the day, to flush away harmful bacteria and keep your mouth hydrated and acid-free, you can help beneficial species of bacteria flourish. For instance, A12 is the bane of streptococcus mutans because it has the weapons to kill it and create an environment that is more suitable for good or beneficial bacteria.

Moreover, there is also a species of beneficial bacteria, streptococcus salivarius, which can help combat bad breath. However, you need to do your part to ensure that your mouth is an environment that allows the good and the beneficial bacterial species to thrive.

If you have ever wondered what roles bacteria play in your mouth and its health, this information should be useful to you. And remember, since this is your mouth, you can choose to allow the bad or the good and beneficial bacteria to thrive, the choice is yours! Talk to your dentist to learn more.