Have you ever thought about the number of oral bacteria living in your mouth? Curious about their purpose and how they can help or hinder your smile? It may be surprising (and shocking) to learn that more than 20 billion microbes exist inside your oral cavity, but this number can drastically increase the longer you wait to brush. A local dentist gives further insight into the world of oral bacteria and what you can do to ensure your dental health remains in optimal condition moving forward.
Doing the Math: Oral Bacteria by the Numbers
From your teeth and gums to your cheeks and tongue, oral microbes exist on every surface inside your oral cavity. Containing plaque that is known to cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, researchers have devoted years to determine exactly how many bacteria live in the mouth and what they do to help or hinder an individual’s oral health.
According to Dr. Walter Loesche with the University of Michigan, he estimated the number of total oral microbes to be around 20 billion. However, this number continually changes simply because bacteria are known to double over time. But because there are different types of bacteria in the mouth at one time, some may or may not grow as quickly.
Some basic numbers Dr. Loesche calculated might take you by surprise. These include:
- Each day, the average person swallows an estimated 100 billion microbes found in saliva
- With an estimated 20 billion microbes in the mouth, it’s possible they produce and shed 100 billion more each day
In simplest terms, it is believed that oral microbes are doubling close to five times in a single day. Should you brush only once in a 24-hour period, the initial 20 billion oral microbes can become 100 billion.
The Unpredictability of Bacteria and Its Location
Harvard University led a team of researchers who published their findings in Genome Biology, discussing the variability of bacteria and its location within the mouth. With a goal of better understanding how bacteria interact, the team stated that identifying the role of oral microbes in the mouth and determining which ones should be removed or added can help in the development of probiotics and identifying what can be done to address those that can damage a person’s oral health.
Ways to Ensure Optimal Oral Health
It’s no secret there are good and bad bacteria in the mouth. While some are designed to provide essential nutrients that can benefit the teeth and gums and better protect against infection, others can be the leading cause of tooth decay and gum disease. By adopting good oral habits at home and regularly seeing your dentist in Marietta for checkups and cleanings every six months, you can minimize the potential for bad bacteria to take charge.
From brushing twice a day for two full minutes to flossing at least once a day to rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash, your mouth will be positively impacted. But good oral hygiene isn’t the only beneficial way to curb bad bacteria. Eating a healthy, nutrient-rich diet, minimizing sugar and starches in your diet, and avoiding tobacco products and smoking will also prevent harmful bacteria from wreaking havoc on your oral cavity.
As more research is conducted to determine the different species of oral bacteria and how it interacts within the mouth, it’s best to work closely with your dentist to identify ways you can better protect your smile and ensure the good bacteria outweighs the bad.
Posted on behalf on Envision Dental