When you hear the word bacteria, your first thoughts may be of infection and illness. However, not all bacteria are harmful. In fact, as you read this, your mouth contains around 600 identifiable bacteria, most of which help maintain your mouth’s delicate ecological balance. For the most part, though, you would be correct in assuming germs are a serious concern. This week, which marks National Handwashing Awareness Week, is dedicated in part to raising awareness about the spread of dangerous germs, including those that originate within your mouth. As part of this awareness, Pella dentist Dr. Allen introduces you to two of the most dangerous microbes that dwell in your mouth.
Dental Health’s Bullies
Tooth decay begins with a process called demineralization, during which organic acid saps minerals from your teeth as it attacks your tooth enamel, which surrounds and protects your teeth. Enamel is made almost entirely of minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, and this process prevents it from remineralizing under the acid attack. Streptococcus mutans, a strain of bacteria that contributes to dental plaque formation, also contributes to tooth decay by consuming sugars and carbs in your diet and converting them into lactic acid. Frequent snacking on sugary foods and beverages enhances the danger from S. mutans; the more sugar they consume, the more acid they produce and the greater your risk of developing tooth decay.
S. mutans isn’t the only bacteria that help form plaque. In fact, the sticky substance is comprised mostly of oral bacteria, among them the infamous Porphyromonas gingivalis. When plaque accumulates along your gum line, some bacteria release toxins that irritate your gums and cause them to recede from your teeth, marking the beginning of gum disease. P. gingivalis also incites inflammation in your gums by provoking your body’s immune response. Diseased oral tissue provides an excellent pathway for oral bacteria to enter your bloodstream, possibly causing damage to other areas of the body as they continue to incite tissue inflammation.
Oral Health in Pella
Like washing your hands, good oral hygiene can help you control the amount of bacteria that threatens your health. Dr. Jeffrey Allen provides comfortable dental care to patients of all ages. Call (641) 628-1121 today to schedule a checkup and cleaning, cosmetic consultation, or second-opinion visit. We are located on the west side of the historic town square in Pella, IA. Please see the map for directions.