Bacteria are strange little things, and there are a lot of them — especially in your mouth. In fact, at any given moment, we can have between 100 million to 1 billion of them on the surface of each tooth. Although the thought is a little unsettling, they’re really only trying to do their thing, which is mostly eating and reproducing. Our relationship with the bacteria inside our bodies is a symbiotic one, or mutually beneficial. They help us to pre-digest food before it reaches our stomachs — where more bacteria will break down all the essential nutrients — as well as stimulating saliva production, making it easier for our mouth to stay clean.
Bacteria isn’t all good, though. Like all our best relationships, our bond is a little complicated. Here are three strange bacteria facts.
Kiss and Share
A recent report published in the journal, Microbiome, shared some “intimate” discoveries. Much like the old, schoolyard saying, other people really do have “cooties.” According to the report, those who share a 10-second kiss, can transfer up to 80 million bacteria at one time. Though more evidence is needed, the study makes the hypothesis that kissing might have served an evolutionary benefit for humans, working to diversify the microbiome of both the kissing parties.
Tooth Brushes Aren’t So Clean
If you’ve ever put your toothbrush into your mouth assuming it was clean, you were probably wrong. As it turns out, several factors can contribute to the dirtiness of your brush, including your toilet. Known as aerosol plume, when you flush your toilet without closing the lid, it can create a bacteria plume of up to 15 feet. Items like toothbrush holders have been known to contain E. coli and other gross bacteria. If your solution is to use a toothbrush cover, that could actually produce make matters worse, as it actually creates the perfect environment, damp and dark, for bacteria to grow. If you’re worried about keeping your toothbrush clean, best practice is to store it in the cabinet, and to periodically disinfect your toothbrush with antibacterial mouthwash.
Bad Breath is Actually Bad Bacteria
Although it can be embarrassing, bad breath is something that at least 50 percent of the population has at one point had, but what causes bad breath? As it turns out, nearly 90 percent of all bad breath is caused by bacteria breaking down proteins in the mouth. Bad breath can be worse when suffering from any condition that lessens the amount of saliva present, making it more difficult for the mouth to wash away bad-breath causing bacteria. Dry mouth can also make it easier to contract gum disease.
Bad bacteria can not only cause bad breath, but can also lead to cavities and gum disease. Known as streptococcus mutans, these bacteria are known for breaking down sugars and simple starches and producing an acidic byproduct that wears down enamel, and damages the gums. If you’ve noticed red or puffy looking gums, then it may be time to schedule an appointment.
If you’re concerned about your mouth Mira Mesa, please call (858) 271-1010 today for an appointment with Scripps Ranch general dentist Dr. Ramin Goshtasbi at Oasis Dental Arts.