How would you feel if a dog ran over to you and urinated on your foot? What if that urine was able to ruin part of your skin so that it had to be replaced with a skin-colored synthetic graft? You would probably be outraged — and rightfully so. However, troche many people permit a similar situation to occur in their mouths everyday!
Did you know that right now, treat there are thousands of little living organisms called bacteria living inside of your mouth? They love sitting on your teeth. You provide them food, ailment shelter, and a nice environment with 100% humidity. You could call your mouth their dream home. However, there is a slight problem. These bacteria aren’t very polite — they can end up leaving your home pretty dirty and in bad repair.
You Feed Them
Every time you sit down and eat a meal, you’re feeding them. When you take a sip of Juice, Milk, or Soda, you’re feeding them. Anytime you put anything in your mouth, you’re almost certainly feeding them just what they want. As you feed them and keep them safe, they start to grow and reproduce, making lots of little plaque families that call your mouth home. They even are smart enough to build a little matrix that can serve as their house to keep them cozy and safe from the natural plaque-fighting defenses your body possesses. Scientifically speaking, these houses they build are called their extracellular matrix. There’s just one slight problem: These houses don’t have built-in plumbing.
What Do They Do Without a Bathroom?
So what happens after these bacteria enjoy a delicious glass of juice or a nice slice of whole wheat toast? They go to work digesting their food through a process called glycolysis. After they’re done digesting their food, they have to get rid of it, and when they feel that urge to let loose, it comes out all over your teeth. Their “waste product” consists of a dangerous acid, called lactic acid that goes right to work dissolving the enamel on your teeth. If this process continues, a disease called dental caries (commonly called a cavity) will develop. The decayed tooth structure must then be replaced with artificial tooth by a dentist.
How to Stop the Bacteria
There are at least three proven ways to win the fight against these unwanted intruders:
- Brush Your Teeth – Brushing your teeth provides the mechanical force necessary to remove the bacteria from your teeth. Once the bacteria and their exctracellular matrix are removed from your tooth surface, your saliva can go to work restoring the enamel that was dissolved by the acids. If you don’t brush, the saliva cannot penetrate the bacteria’s matrix and is unable to repair the enamel.
- Floss Your Teeth – A toothbrush can only get the tooth surfaces that are easy to access. Dental floss is ideal to remove bacteria from the areas where a typical brush cannot reach, like in between teeth and below the gums.
- Use a Fluoride Mouth Rinse – Fluoride helps you win the fight against oral bacteria in two ways. First, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making it less resistant to the acid that is secreted by bacteria. Many studies have also shown that when the bacteria are in the presence of fluoride, their acid-production is greatly reduced.
It is important to recognize that each of the above methods will not completely eliminate bacteria from your mouth, they will simply reduce the bacteria to a healthy level. By not removing plaque, the bacteria will grow to unhealthy levels that can cause gingivitis, which leads to bone loss, and dental cavities.
I know the dog analogy sounds a bit gross. Hopefully it makes you really think about what goes on inside your mouth. Bacteria really are living there and trying to destroy your teeth. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below and I will respond to it, or just send me an email.
Thanks for reading. Good luck winning the war inside your mouth!
My name is Tom. I am currently a fourth year dental student at an ADA Accredited Dental School in the northeastern United States. Before I came to dental school, information pills I had the opportunity to work in a dental clinic that provided dental care for those who would otherwise be unable to pay for it. Working at that clinic made me realize how fortunate I am and gave me the desire to pursue a career in dentistry.
My enthusiasm for dentistry is still strong today. Working in the clinics at school has helped me see the great impact that a smile can have in an individual’s life.
When talking with patients, I have realized that everyone cares about having a healthy smile. However, many people have misconceptions and unanswered questions about their oral health.
I decided to create this site, Oral Answers, with the hope that it will empower others with knowledge that they can use to improve their dental health and overall quality of life. I realized that many people are interested in their oral health. A lot of people hesitate to ask questions because they are afraid that it is a “dumb question.” There are no dumb questions here!
Others may hesitate to ask their dentist or doctor because they think that they’re too busy to spend time answering questions for them or they feel awkward asking questions. Hopefully, you can use Oral Answers as an online reference of accurate, up-to-date oral health information.
I hope you enjoy it. If you have any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, please use this contact form to let me know.
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If you do use the form below, I will still try to answer your question either on this site, or in a simple reply via email, it just might take longer. Thanks!