Oral Bacteria: A Closer Look at What Lives in Your Mouth




About 3.8 trillion bacteria cells live in an average human’s body. They outnumber actual cells, which is estimated to be 3 trillion. The reason everyone isn’t constantly sick is that these microbes aren’t always hostile. Some are even essential for your health. A great way to see the effects of good and bad bacteria is to observe the human mouth.

Mostly Harmless

There are more than 700 species of bacteria in your mouth, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Most of them are harmless; others are even essential to keeping your digestive system healthy. One of them is a strain called “A12.” 

Scientists from the University of Florida found that this germ creates compounds that neutralize tooth decay-causing acids in your mouth. It’s so good at its job that the researchers want to make a supplement out of it to help people fight cavities. However, it’s still subject to further evaluation.

Bad Bacteria

Unfortunately, not every germ in your mouth is beneficial. Some are bad for your overall health. Here are some of them.



  • Streptococcus Mutans – Remember the acids discussed earlier? They’re caused by this strain. S. Mutans feeds on the sugar you consume from food and drinks. They then excrete acid that slowly damages and rots your tooth enamel, eventually causing cavities. 




  • Porphyromonasgingivalis – This bacteria is often linked to various gum diseases, specifically gingivitis. Gingivitis causes irritation, redness, and inflammation of your gums. Symptoms include bleeding when brushing or flossing, swollen and dark red gums, and bad breath. If left unchecked, this condition may lead to more serious diseases, like periodontitis. Periodontitis is known to weaken and destroy jaw bones that support your teeth, eventually causing tooth loss. 



Infection and Complications

What’s worse is that the diseases these bad bacteria cause are infectious. A kiss, for example, can spread as much as 80 million bacteria. Plus, severe tooth decay can cause harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream and spread to your other organs. This may lead to complications, like heart disease and pneumonia.

How to Keep Mouth Healthy

Experts suggest practicing good oral hygiene to keep bad bacteria away. Brushing at least twice a day is recommended. If you want to enhance your protection, flossing and gargling with anti-bacterial mouthwash may help minimize gum disease-causing plaque.

However, infections may go deeper into your gums. For example, your West Jordan dentist may tell you that your infected wisdom teeth is due to Streptococcus. If this is the case, then you may want to get medication or even surgery for your wisdom tooth.

Bacteria are simple germs compared as they’re only single-celled organisms. However, the effects they have on us are so diverse and complex, especially since not all are bad. Some are probiotics, which keep our mouth and gut healthy. Other germs create byproducts, like acid and plaque that wreak havoc on your mouth and other organs. With proper oral health habits, you can keep these germs at bay and maintain a fresh and disease-free mouth.