How Your Mouth Behaves Like An Ecosystem

Not All Oral Bacteria Are Harmful

You may be surprised to find that your mouth has anywhere from 10-50 billion oral bacteria that thrive or die under specific conditions controlled by your oral hygiene, lifestyle habits, and diet. Unique types of bacteria are responsible for oral health issues like tooth decay, halitosis (chronic bad breath), and gum disease. At the same time, positive bacteria help your mouth protect itself against these harmful pathogens.

Smoking Kills Good Bacteria

Microbiologists study how healthy mouths are coated with a thick “forest” of good bacteria which prevents pathogens from touching down on your mouth. Recent research by a professor of periodontology at Ohio State University describes how smokers mouths are toxic to these helpful oral bacteria. In fact, the chemicals from smoking actually cause your body to turn against these positive bacteria, making your mouth a friendlier environment for pathogens that cause gingivitis, bad breath, and cavities. Professor Kumar describes the phenomena like a yard with weeds. An imbalance in the chemical composition of the soil allows weeds to sprout up and choke out healthy plants in the same way that smokers’ mouths destroy good bacteria.

The Ecosystem Inside Your Mouth

The mouth behaves so much like a forest that ecologists are taking an interest in how the 50-75 different species in the mouth cohabitate. According to a recent NPR story, studies show that different types of bacteria congregate in certain areas of the mouth, much the way that different animal species choose specific parts of the forest to live. For example, the bacteria on the back of your tongue may be a different species than the bacteria on the tip of your tongue.

Complete Dental Care in Riverside

Scientists agree that the best course of action for maintaining a healthy oral ecosystem is to keep thorough daily oral hygiene habits and schedule regular dental cleanings and checkups. Our Riverside dentists offer comprehensive dental care to help you and your family achieve optimal oral health. Contact one of our Riverside County dental offices today. For more information about the services we offer, or to reserve an appointment at Dental Associates of Riverside, call (951) 369-1001.