Your mouth is home to millions of bacteria at any given time. These millions of bacteria create your mouth’s microbiome, and it’s a delicate balance. Both good and bad bacteria strains interact with each other constantly. Ideally, your mouth should have enough good bacteria to neutralize the bad.
If the balance between good and harmful bacteria is offset, your mouth becomes an environment where harmful bacteria can thrive. This imbalance can quickly turn a healthy mouth into an unhealthy one.
The good news is that keeping a balance of good bacteria in your mouth is as easy as setting good oral hygiene habits at home. Poor oral hygiene helps bad bacteria thrive, leading to plaque buildup, enamel erosion, cavities, decay, and gum disease. We’ll give you our best tips for keeping your mouth’s microbiome balanced and healthy in the sections below.
Brushing and flossing
No dental hygiene routine can eliminate harmful bacteria (no matter how careful you are). Still, one of the best ways to keep your mouth’s microbiome balanced is to brush and floss twice per day. This creates an environment where good bacteria thrive, and harmful bacteria can’t multiply.
As you brush and floss, make sure you are getting the nooks and crannies between your teeth and your gum line. The goal is to clear away any food particles or lingering bacteria, protecting your mouth from tartar, decay, and periodontal disease.
Dental experts recommend drinking water throughout the day to wash away food particles and boost saliva production. That’s because drinking water keeps your mouth hydrated, which is essential to keeping the right balance of good and bad bacteria. Conversely, a dry environment makes it easier for harmful bacteria to spread. This contributes to bad breath, increased plaque, enamel erosion, and periodontal disease.
Avoiding sugary or acidic drinks
It’s no surprise that high-sugar and acidic beverages are bad for your body (such as soda or fruit juice). Not only does the high sugar content lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but they also contribute to an influx of harmful bacteria in your mouth. As sugar particles are digested, they convert to acid – and this is precisely where harmful bacteria thrive and multiply.
The good bacteria will neutralize the acid before it can wear away at your enamel, but if you don’t have enough good bacteria, you’ll be at risk for cavities, decay, and even tooth loss. If you can’t cut out soda, fruit juice, or coffee altogether, try using a straw instead. You can also drink water directly afterward to minimize acidity in your mouth.
Cut back or quit using nicotine
Nicotine reduces your body’s ability to fight off the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation. As a result, many smokers are at a higher risk of developing gingivitis and periodontal disease. (This applies to smokeless tobacco, cigarettes, and vapor products.) No matter what kind of tobacco products you are using, cutting back can make an incredible difference in your oral health.
We all have a balance of good and bad bacteria in our mouths. We can’t eliminate the harmful bacteria, but preventative at-home care helps support good bacteria and minimizes the damage done by harmful bacteria. Call Valley Dental Care to schedule your next checkup today. We’ll be happy to discuss your at-home care and help you create the best oral hygiene routine for your needs!