Oral Bacteria Tougher Than We Thought
Posted by AESTHETIC DENTISTRY on Oct 20 2020, 11:26 AM
It’s pretty safe to say that when we brush our teeth, little thought is given to the behavior of the bacteria in the plaque we are brushing away. After all, we’re brushing because we want it gone, not because we care about how it lives in our mouths. But a new study by Penn Dental Medicine and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has done just that: studied the bacteria found in plaque to see how it behaves in its own environment.
What they found was fascinating. It seems that the bacteria, most frequently the S. Mutans bacteria, has ways to protect itself from not just other bacteria that might harm, but also our own attempts to thwart its presence. It seems S. Mutans has its own line of defense bacteria keeping it safe, something that makes it a little harder to just whisk away with your toothbrush.
According to dentist Martin Abelar of San Diego, California, this makes your oral hygiene routine a lot more important than we thought.
"With bacteria so resistant, really to the point of setting up its own lines of defense, it is all the more important to remove it from your teeth," says Abelar.
This means brushing regularly (twice a day, for two minutes at a time), flossing at least once a day (after each meal if possible), and using a tongue scraper if possible.
"Tongue scrapers help remove S. Mutans bacteria from your tongue, which can help prevent them from getting to your teeth but can also freshen your breath, too," he says.
Another step you may want to add? Starting your brushing routine with mouthwash. This will not only kill some of the bacteria but loosen the plaque and bits of food from your teeth, making your brushing routine more efficient and effective. Better yet, according to Abelar theories are swirling that hydrogen peroxide-based mouthwash may help stop the spread of COVID-19 within the body.
"Knowing what we now know about S. Mutans bacteria, it’s vital to the health of our teeth that we maintain a strong oral health routine," he explains. "This is our best defense against cavities and gingivitis and periodontitis."
Gum disease is one of the most common ailments in America, Abelar says nearly half of all Americans have some degree of gum disease.
"Gum disease doesn’t just affect your gums, it can cause inflammation and enter the bloodstream, causing a stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more."