Woman pointing to healthy teeth.

We all know about bad dental bacteria, the microscopic organisms that are responsible for oral health problems like tooth decay and oral infections. But you may have also heard about good bacteria, particularly in the context of your gut microbiome. If there is good bacteria in our gut, does that mean there is good oral bacteria, too?

Good vs. Bad Oral Bacteria

The quick answer is yes. Bacteria are everywhere, and there are a lot of different types. Our mouths are home to both “good” or beneficial and “bad” or potentially harmful oral bacteria.

Bad Bacteria

Bacteria are often considered “bad” when they can be harmful to our health. When bad bacteria are present in small amounts, they tend to do very little harm, and our immune systems easily fight them off. But when they multiply enough, they can cause illness as well as other problems.

In your mouth, runaway bad bacteria are responsible for bad breath, oral infections, abscesses, and gum disease. In addition, bacteria can feed on the sugars and starches you ingest. As they do, they release acidic byproducts that eat away at tooth enamel, eventually causing decay and cavities.

In addition, if the bad bacteria in our mouths multiply enough, they can enter the bloodstream and be spread to other parts of the body, which can potentially cause short-term and even long-term health problems.

Good Bacteria

Just like there are bad bacteria, there are also good bacteria that live on and in our bodies, including in our gut, on our skin, and in our mouths. These bacteria make up part of our “microbiome” and are considered symbiotic (meaning we live with them in a mutually beneficial way). In other words, these beneficial bacteria help to protect our tissues and our overall health.

Benefits of Good Bacteria

A healthy oral microbiome can be beneficial in several ways:

  • Reducing Inflammation
  • Aiding in Digestion
  • Preventing Bad Breath
  • Fighting Disease
  • Avoiding Dry Mouth

Promoting a Healthy Oral Microbiome

Just like you can take steps for a healthy gut microbiome, there are things you can do to promote good oral bacteria.

A Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to promote a healthy microbiome. Choosing whole foods rather than processed ones is a good start. Avoid an excess of sugary and starchy foods in favor of a variety of produce, healthy fats, and lean proteins. Dairy, which you can find in the form of milk, yogurt, and cheese, is also an excellent addition to your diet.

Good Oral Hygiene

Regular brushing and flossing help to keep bad bacteria at bay, helping your good bacteria to thrive. But don’t worry, regular cleaning will not kill all of your good bacteria.

Don’t Smoke or Vape

We probably don’t need to tell you that smoking is bad for your oral health. Vaping is new, and while some claim it is less unhealthy than smoking, it is still bad for you and your oral health. Both smoking and vaping can have negative impacts on your oral microbiome, in addition to their association with tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancers.

Regular Dental Checkups

Seeing us twice per year for a checkup and cleaning can also promote healthy oral bacteria and help banish the bad types of bacteria. We check your mouth for signs of decay and gum disease and talk to you about ways to keep your mouth – and its resident healthy bacteria – in top shape.

If it’s that time, call to schedule your twice-annual appointment now. And ask us for more ways to keep your oral microbiome working for you and not against you!