Your body has several microbiomes that balance millions of good and bad bacteria. These tiny ecosystems help fight disease and inflammation. The most well-known is the gut microbiome, a hot topic for yogurt commercials. However, your oral microbiome plays a key role in your oral health, including your risk for gum disease. Here we help explain more about your oral microbiome and how it connects to gum disease.
What is an Oral Microbiome?
Oral microbiome is much like a community in your mouth. It is home to over 700 species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses living throughout your mouth on your teeth, gums, inner cheeks, tongue and soft palate. It is an ecosystem of microbes, and every person has a unique combination that makes up their own microbiome. The oral microbiome helps with many functions, including:
- Breaking down food
- Producing vitamins
- Fighting infection
It is so complex that scientists and medical experts have yet to understand its complete inner workings and what functions it contributes to throughout our bodies.
You can even test your own microbiome through your saliva! Bristle is a saliva-testing tool that can give us risk scores for decay, periodontal disease, and bad breath! It gives us a breakdown of any bacterial species detected and how many of each there are! Learn more by downloading this comprehensive salivary oral microbiome testing brochure here.
You can order a test for 15% off at www.bristlehealth.com with code BLOOM15.
What is Gum Disease?
You probably have heard about gum disease. Formally known as periodontal disease, it infects your gums causing puffiness, swelling, redness and bleeding in the early stages of “gingivitis.” As it progresses it can lead to far more serious issues including infection and tooth loss as it attacks your bone and tissue. The final stage of periodontal disease is periodontitis. Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bad breath
- Bad taste that doesn’t go away
- Red, tender, swollen and/or bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums pulling away from your teeth
- Changes to your bite or the fit of dentures
How are Oral Microbiome and Gum Disease Connected?
Simply put, bacteria contribute to gum disease and our oral microbiome hosts bacteria in your mouth. A healthy oral microbiome has a strong balance of good bacteria that helps keep harmful bacteria at bay. If your oral bacteria have a higher balance of bad bacteria, it allows disease, including periodontal disease, to form.
Prevention of Gum Disease
There are five steps you can take to prevent gum disease including:
- Reducing sugar intake to keep your oral microbiome healthy and reduce acids in your mouth
- Proper nose breathing during sleep to promote saliva production to wash away bad bacteria while you sleep
- Reducing stress levels
- Brushing (including your tongue) and flossing every day to remove bad bacteria
- Regular checkups with your dentist in Lakewood to identify risk factors and early signs of gingivitis
As always, it all boils down to good oral hygiene practices, reduced sugar, and checkups at your dentist twice a year to promote oral health. These practices also improve the balance of your oral microbiome.
Schedule your next appointment with your Lakewood CO dentist, Dr. Elizabeth Turner here and she’ll get to know you and evaluate your unique needs.
Want to learn more about oral health? Visit our general dentistry services page.