Your tooth surfaces provide a wonderful habitat for bacteria to grow. And because your mouth also provides a great environment for bacteria, you can never completely banish bacteria from your teeth. But fortunately, you don’t need to do that in order to have great dental health. Some bacteria can actually be beneficial.
Some bacteria can actually help keep your mouth alkaline as well as lending help with breaking down food and improving saliva flow. So when dealing with bacteria, try to get rid of just the bad ones and keep the good ones happy rather than going for the nuclear option.
Here are some methods to help support the good bacteria in your mouth.
Give Them a Neutral or Alkaline Environment
A neutral or slightly alkaline environment in your mouth can discourage the bad bacteria and encourage the beneficial bacteria, which typically aren’t the acid-loving ones. Fortunately, normal saliva tends to hover around PH neutral, so all you have to do is avoid making your mouth more acidic.
Unfortunately, a lot of foods and beverages are acidic or produce acids in your mouth after being eaten by pathogenic bacteria. These can include:
- Fruits, which are typically acidic
- Coffee and black tea (tea is less acidic than coffee)
- Sodas and sports drinks
- Anything with sugar in it, even natural sugar
- Anything with refined starches, such as bread
You don’t have to stop eating these foods. However, the more you keep them to designated meal times (rather than eating or sipping throughout the day), the higher percentage of time your mouth can work on staying alkaline. You should also rinse your mouth with water after finishing the food to wash any residue off your tooth surfaces.
Eat Probiotic Foods
Consuming foods with live probiotics in them can help to replenish the good bacteria in your mouth. This isn’t a long-lasting effect, so you’ll need to eat probiotics on a regular basis. Just keep in mind that some probiotic foods (such as kombucha) can be highly acidic and should therefore be eaten with meals, rather than throughout the day.
Or you could take an oral probiotic supplement. Unlike typical probiotic supplements, these are designed to dissolve in your mouth so the bacteria are delivered there rather than to your stomach.
Avoid Crowding Them Out
When bad bacteria flourish, the good bacteria suffer. The pathogenic bacteria tend to change the biofilm on your teeth to make it friendlier for themselves. They make it thicker and more acidic, which isn’t such a great environment for the good bacteria. And when there’s an overgrowth of bad bacteria, there’s just not much room for good bacteria anymore.
In addition to the food precautions mentioned above, you can take further measures to avoid overgrowths of bad bacteria. One such measure is brushing and flossing multiple times per day (and don’t forget to brush or scrape your tongue). Another is eating a piece of xylitol-containing gum after each meal. The xylitol helps reduce the bad bacteria’s population explosion.
Try Arginine Toothpaste
Several types of toothpaste now contain arginine. Arginine can help feed alkalinizing bacteria in your oral biofilm, which helps neutralize acids produced by pathogenic bacteria. And it can help reduce the rate of growth of bad bacteria so they can’t form plaque as quickly.
These four strategies can help you be mindful of the needs of the helpful and healthy bacteria in your mouth, while discouraging the cavity-causing bacteria from reproducing. But remember, home care of your teeth is only one part of the picture. Treasured Smiles Adult & Cosmetic Dentistry can provide the professional care you need to keep your mouth healthy, repair any damage, and treat any symptoms of gum disease before they become serious. Get in touch today to learn about our full range of dental services.