Our mouth is bacteria’s favourite dwelling place, because it provides the three key factors for them to grow most and grow best.
“Don’t put that in your mouth!”
Parents are no stranger to this familiar phrase, yelled ever too often when our children put their hands to their mouths after touching the grimy playground, or try to eat a twig they have picked up from the park.
But do you really think that the ground or the twig is actually dirtier than the mouth?
What many people fail to realise is that the mouth is actually the dirtiest part of the human body! Scientists at Harvard School of Dental Medicine have discovered more than 615 different types of bacteria that can live in the mouth, tongue and throat.
Our mouth is bacteria’s favourite dwelling place, because it provides the three key factors for them to grow MOST and grow BEST:
- Nutrients (from the foods that we consume daily)
- Water (from our saliva), and
- Warmth (our body temperature)
The bugs have a warm and humid environment filled with delicious nutrients from the different kinds of foods that we eat. Believe it or not, these bacteria in your mouth eat along with us!
So… if you don’t keep your teeth clean regularly, you are allowing these bacteria to grow unhindered in your mouth for that period of time that you’ve left your teeth uncleaned! Studies have shown that bacteria repopulate a tooth surface about 15 minutes after it is cleaned professionally by a dentist.
The harmful bacteria in the mouth causes two main dental disease: decay (cavities) and gum disease. For both conditions, pain only occurs when:
- The nerve is infected during tooth decay, or
- When the tooth is ready to fall out of the mouth
By then, the disease would have progressed for some time and is at a serious stage.
Dental decay and gum disease progresses as bacteria slowly “eat away” at the gums and supporting bone. When the bone finally gets “eaten away” by bacteria to the point of being unable to support the tooth during chewing, the tooth would become shaky and cause pain when eating. Occasionally a pouch of bacteria forms under the gums, resulting in what is known as a “gum abscess”, which also causes pain.
Likewise, when the tooth finally gets “eaten away” to the point that it hits the centre or nerve of the tooth, i.e. when one will experience an excruciating toothache that normally gets worse at night.
Before you freak out, here’s the good news:
Not all bacteria in your mouth are bad. Thanks to the good bacteria in the mix, it slows the growth of the bad bacteria, so it takes a while before it can cause harm to the body. Together with good dental hygiene and practices, most dental problems can be prevented.
What’s the best way to care for your teeth and your child’s? Read on the next page!