As the world is currently in the midst of managing the Coronavirus outbreak, much attention has been given to disinfection and how to eliminate unwanted bacteria. Dentists have a unique position when our job as a dentist entails that we are in close proximity with an abundance of aerosols. This means, that at any given moment, a dentist is covered in bacteria from other people’s mouths!
Did you know that the mouth is one of the dirtiest places of the human body with over 600 species of bacteria thriving in the naturally warm and humid environment 1? Dentists works with their patients to help lessen the amount of potentially harmful bacteria in the mouth, but the work doesn’t end there. There are many things that people can do at home every day that can lessen the amount of potentially infectious and harmful bacteria in the mouth. As the oral cavity is connected to the rest of the body by the way of the digestive system, taking care of your oral health has benefits for your health as a whole! Here are 6 things that can be done on a daily basis to prevent toxic bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
Brush Your Teeth
May be it goes without saying, maybe it doesn’t – but Brush Your Teeth! Brushing food and plaque (which is technically a sheet of bacteria) away from your teeth twice a day is the best way to remove unwanted bacteria in the mouth.
Swish With A Peroxide Or Alcohol Containing Mouthwash
In addition to brushing and flossing, a mouthwash can help to eliminate remaining harmful bacteria. Peroxide can act to oxidize the oral environment which can lead to inactivating bacteria and viral particles, while alcohol can inactivate the proteins that some bacteria and viruses need to survive.
Floss Between Your Teeth
You know the saying “You’re never fully dressed without a smile!”? Well just remember, your teeth are never fully clean without some floss! While brushing your teeth removes the food and plaque film on the tops and sides of your teeth, flossing is the only thing that can help to remove these items from in between your teeth. When flossing, remember to be gentle so that you do not harm your gum tissue. To use floss properly, form the floss in a “C” shape against the surface of each tooth, rubbing back and forth to gently break up the plaque and food particles held in between.
Brush Your Tongue
The tongue is one of the main reservoirs of bacteria and toxic matter in the mouth. The tongue naturally has microscopic furrows along the entire top surface of the tongue. To paint the picture a little bit more clearly, the tongue has numerous valleys/cracks which bacteria can bury down into to hide and flourish. To properly clean your tongue, brush gently in a circular motion for at least 30 seconds, along the entire top surface of the tongue. Alternatively, you can use a tongue scraper, which can be found in the toothbrush aisle of your local store, to effectively clean the surface of your tongue.
Sure water is not the most exciting liquid out there, but staying hydrated means that bacteria is less apt to flourish within your mouth. When your mouth is dry, bacteria quite literally stick to your teeth and the inside surfaces of your mouth and are free to thrive. Each time you drink water to moisten the surfaces inside your mouth, making it harder for bacteria to adhere, and flush away toxins from your mouth through your digestive tract with each drink!
Take A Probiotic
Certain probiotics have been shown to help fight gum disease and halitosis (bad breath) 2. While research is still being conducted to determine exactly how and to what extent probiotics work to reduce oral bacteria, it certainly has shown great promise.
Eat Fibrous Food
Just as brushing your teeth physically removes bacteria and plaque from your teeth, chewing on fibrous foods can also help to remove these items from your teeth. Fibrous foods like raw fruits and vegetables: carrots, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, etc. can all act to shake adhered bacteria from your teeth and your oral cavity tissues.
We hope you found these tips helpful! Just remember, your health begins and ends with YOU!
1. Discovering what lives in your mouth. 2002. The Harvard Gazette. Accessed on March 25,2020 from https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2002/08/discovering-what-lives-in-your-mouth/
2. Bosch M., Molina J.N., Audivert S., et. al. Isolation and characterization of probiotic strains for improving oral health. Archives of Oral Biology, Volume 58, Issue 5, May 2013, Pages 558-559
Dr. Mikaeya Kalantari has been a practicing pediatric dentist for over 7 years working in both the children's hospital setting and private practice. She has had a wealth of experience treating children of all ages, and medical conditions. When it comes to serving children, she feels the importance of communication between the dentist and parent can not be emphasized enough. Dr. Kalantari practices in her family owned dental office in Mission Viejo, California.