How Many Bacteria Are in Your Mouth?
September 3, 2022
Bacteria linger on many surfaces that can cause illnesses or infections. Although you know bathrooms, kitchens, and even your cell phone are the most contaminated surfaces, did you know your mouth is home to up to 650 bacterial species at any given time? The thought may make you want to grab your toothbrush, but many species are vital for a healthy smile. However, some can cause cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other oral health concerns. Here’s how to keep oral bacteria under control to maintain a healthy smile.
Your Mouth is a Hotspot for Bacterial
Oral bacteria live on every surface of your mouth, including your teeth, tongue, gums, and cheeks. Researchers have already found that hundreds of species live in the mouth, but they didn’t know the total number of bacteria or their growth rate. As a result, they developed a method to find the total number of oral microbes.
After harvesting plaque from every surface of each tooth, which weighed about 10 mg, they multiplied the weight by 20. Since the teeth are only 1/20 of the oral surfaces, multiplying 10 mg by 20 gave them total biomass for the entire mouth. Previous research has found that 1 mg of oral biomass generally has 100 million microbes. A simple formula allowed them to determine there are approximately 20 million oral bacteria.
Various factors contribute to the number of bacteria present. Laboratory testing has found that some species can double their numbers in just 20 minutes. Not to mention, the species have to compete with each other.
While it may seem like bacteria will accumulate without any end, certain things also combat the amount in your mouth, like swallowing. On average, you swallow 1 liter of saliva each day. 1 ml of saliva has about 100 million microbes. You can swallow 100 billion bacteria daily.
Controlling Oral Bacteria
You can rely on your saliva alone to reduce bacteria. Brushing and flossing are the most effective ways to keep your mouth clean. Brush your teeth for at least two minutes in the morning and night. Floss between each tooth daily and use an antimicrobial mouthwash. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, which will help keep your mouth moist and clean in between brushing and flossing. Don’t forget to visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup.
With the right care at home and regular dental appointments, you can combat harmful oral bacteria to keep your smile clean and healthy. It’s never too late to recommit to your dental health with better oral hygiene habits.
About Dr. Joseph Noble
Dr. Noble achieved his dental degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center and has completed continuing education in many specialties. He focuses on prevention to create generations of healthy, beautiful smiles through personalized treatment plans. If it’s time for your next cleaning and checkup, contact our office today to request an appointment.
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