The bacteria living in your mouth are directly linked to your overall health.
You already know that both good and bad bacteria exist in your body. They live on your skin, in your stomach, and, of course, in your mouth! Bacteria make up almost 3 pounds of your total weight. (Ew, really!? Yep!)
Your mouth has its very own zip code of bacteria. This little community of bacteria (around 6 billion), is called your oral microbiome—similar to the microbiome in your gut).
Here in your oral microbiome, there are good bacteria that break down your food, fight bad breath, and combat oral disease. These good bacteria are your body’s protective knights in shining armor, and you want to protect them so they can do their job.
To do this, you need to keep the harmful bacteria from moving into your mouth, reproducing, and causing problems.
THIS IS WHY YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH.
Every time you eat, it’s like an Amazon Fresh order being delivered to the door of your oral microbiome. Any leftover food in your mouth creates a buffet of feasting options for the bacteria that live there! And unfortunately, like most of us, bacteria love sugar and carbs! When those bacteria have a ready supply of starchy food, they multiply like teenagers who have found the party house.
Also like teenagers, (not yours or mine of course) the harmful bacteria create a mess. This mess, you know as plaque. Very simply, plaque is a sticky area on your teeth where bacteria can comfortably live and hang out. If plaque stays too long, it can cause damage. When your teeth feel slimy or furry, bacteria are starting to create a sticky housing situation that will begin to destroy your teeth and gums.
If you can grasp what I’m about to tell you next, you may add years to your life.
Not all the harmful bacteria in your mouth stays put.
Cavities are just ONE result of poor oral health. Certain species of oral bacteria can create diseases and conditions in other parts of your body as well. So, a cavity or two may not bother you much, but what about dementia or heart disease?
Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body, and your oral health can directly impact your overall health.
I know it sounds dramatic, but each time you chew, brush, or floss, bacteria get pushed into small vessels in your gums. When your gums are inflamed or if you have chronic gum disease or other oral infections, that bacteria move straight into your bloodstream. As harmful bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can travel to organs like your brain and heart. Certain species of oral bacteria are linked to preterm labor, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and various types of cancer.
OK, Don’t panic!
When you clean your teeth by flossing, rinsing, brushing and take time to visit your [eh-hem, favorite] dentist twice a year, you’re destroying the bacteria’s housing and food supply. With nowhere to live and nothing to eat, bacteria can’t reproduce as fast. In a clean oral environment, harmful bacteria will be removed regularly, and won’t wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, keeping your bloodstream clean.
Bacteria do form quickly, which is why you need to brush for a minimum of 2 minutes twice a day. Brushing isn’t about scrubbing hard, but about continually disrupting those harmful bacteria and flushing them out.
1. Not all bacteria are bad, but the harmful bacteria in your mouth can get into your bloodstream and cause diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, heart disease, and cancer.
2. Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body. Treat it accordingly.
3. Floss, rinse and brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes twice a day to disrupt bacteria growth that could cause problems in your mouth and elsewhere in your body.
4. Tell a friend what you’ve learned, you might add a few years to their life.