Harmful vs. Healthy Mouth Bacteria

Understanding the Different Bacteria in Your Mouth

Even though we regularly brush and floss, our mouths stay filled with germs and bacteria. In fact, according to a study done by the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, there are more than 700 different kinds of bacteria in the human mouth, and most people have around 250-300 types present at any given time. This may sound bad, but certain bacteria can actually play an important role in maintaining oral health and preventing harmful infections.

Good Bacteria

As previously mentioned, your mouth needs good bacteria. Some germs help to kill bad bacteria, such as the small particles on the back of your tongue that combat conditions like strep throat. This is because good bacteria produce certain proteins that can control the growth of bad bacteria. They thrive in neutral to high pH environments, and when your mouth is filled with them you’ll have much better-smelling breath. You’ll also notice fewer instances of dry mouth and you won’t develop as many cavities or gum problems.

Bad Bacteria

High levels of bad bacteria can lead to bad breath. When your mouth smells like rotten eggs or sulfur, this can be a sign the bad bacteria are overpowering the good bacteria. This increases the risk of developing tooth decay and cavities, as well as periodontal disease and gum inflammation. Bad bacteria typically thrive in pH environments with low levels of oxygen, for example, areas with major tartar plaque build-up.

What Triggers Bacteria Imbalances?

Research is still being done on what causes bacteria unbalancing, however, triggers may include:

  • Weak immune system
  • Dry mouth
  • Genetics
  • Not taking proper care of your teeth and gums

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