Oral Microbes and Their Role in the Oral Cavity

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Your mouth mirrors what is happening in your body- this is right. A gum issue is rarely, if ever, just a gum issue. To heal your body, you need to recover your mouth and vice versa. Indeed, bacteria are often blamed for problems like tooth decay and gum disease, but there is no such thing as good bacteria or bad bacteria. On the contrary, bacteria either behave well or poorly, depending on the condition of their terrain. This is why you need to maintain homeostasis within the oral microbiome in your oral cavity. This is slightly more involved than just brushing your teeth after a meal and calling it a day.

To know more about your oral cavity, read below.

What is an Oral Microbiome, and How is it Related to Your Oral Cavity?

The oral microbiome is primarily a community of microorganisms, predominantly bacteria, found within your mouth. The unique environment inside your mouth is ideal for the growth of certain microorganisms. As a result, your oral microbiome is distinct from your gut and skin microbiomes.

Some of the critical factors involved in shaping the oral microbiome typically include high water, rich access to nutrients, and a moderate temperature. If all these factors are favorable, the microbes grow faster.

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The human body is a composite of many species, and there is a symbiotic relationship between man and microbe. This symbiotic relationship is the foundation of your ability to stay alive and thrive with countless bodily functions. 

This unique community of bacterial organisms, also known as the oral microbiome, performs vital functions in the mouth. These microbes form an intelligent, semipermeable membrane that often performs essential functions to help keep your mouth healthy. 

Their common functions include transporting ionic minerals from your saliva to the surface of teeth to aid in remineralization. Additionally, the microbes carry molecular oxygen to your gums and soft tissue, thus eliminating free radicals and other waste products from the surface. In addition, some play a vital role in protecting us from harmful environmental organisms.

Where to Find Oral Microbes in the Oral Cavity?

The microbes in your mouth occupy surfaces of both the teeth, gums, and tongue, and each location has a unique composition of microbes. Meaning one microbe present in one place is different from the other position. Some microbes are more suited to soft oral tissues, others to more complex tissues such as the tooth enamel.

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In particular, anaerobic bacteria come in an abundance of different forms. These microbes are so unique that they affect a person’s oral and systemic health. There are both beneficial microbes and ones that can harm, but typically the distinction is unclear. Also, note that the role of each microbe depends on its environment and context.

These are resident bacteria within your mouth that have evolved to modify the human host’s health in several ways. Both kinds of dental plaque serve as homes for these resident bacteria, which play an essential role in developing cavities.

Most of these bacteria cannot invade other local tissues due to the natural defense system of your oral cavity. Researchers in the dental field are particularly interested in the microbiome role that primarily affects your oral conditions such as dental caries, oral cancer, and periodontal disease.

However, the true significance of most oral organisms has only recently been discovered. Note that the oral microbiome can affect a wide range of systems within the human body.

Importance of Oral Microbes Beyond the Oral Cavity

Oral bacteria can provide an essential defense against invading foreign bodies. This can only occur when the microorganisms work in synergy. However, if there is an imbalance, this could have several adverse effects on your health. 

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This microbial imbalance is often referred to as dysbiosis. When it occurs, there could be a contributing factor to several diseases. It could include inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s, pancreatic cancer, diabetes, and liver cirrhosis.

Interestingly, the human microbiome interacts very closely with your immune system, and as a consequence, the immune system might be affected by dysbiosis. All this can contribute to conditions such as HIV infection and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Do you know that dysbiosis of the oral microbiome is related to the cardiovascular system and the development of atherosclerosis? All these findings show the oral microbiome’s significant influence on whole-body human health.

How Can You Tell if the Oral Microbes are Imbalanced?

When the oral microbiome in your mouth is in a state of balance, otherwise known as microbial homeostasis, its nature is very different from its normal form. It is said to be in an imbalanced state. The ecosystems in your mouth are often referred to as the oral biofilm or plaque. 

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When you have a balanced oral microbiome, it consists of primarily aerobic bacteria. It means they rely on oxygen to live. They form a thin, clear, protective, and odorless film. Your teeth will feel squeaky-clean, and your gums will appear pink and well-oxygenated in this balanced state.

But when imbalanced, this biofilm transforms into a sticky, thick, and smelly film. You can commonly observe the off-white plaque film on your teeth in the morning. This repetitive formation results from constant disturbances of the oral microbiome. 

It is vital to note that there is nothing like “good bacteria” and “bad bacteria” in the human microbiome”. Instead, it is just bacteria that behave well (called probiotics), or those that conduct poorly (called pathogens). Depending on the condition of the terrain, they are situated. Several species of bacteria in the mouth are closely associated with gum disease and tooth decay. 

Symptoms that often signal an imbalance in the oral microbiome include bleeding gums, bad breath, and frequent tooth decay. Each of these symptoms indicates an imbalance connected to the microbio being too thick. 

Common Oral Diseases of the Oral Cavity

The following is a list of some of the most commonly observed oral diseases people are being diagnosed with nowadays.

1 Dental Caries or Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the more common oral diseases. It is found in all ages and is a completely preventable oral disease. Cavities are caused when bacteria stick to the teeth, eventually causing wear and tear to a tooth’s enamel. Once the bacteria enter the tooth, a cavity is formed.

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2 Gum disease (or periodontal disease)

Gum disease is a condition that generally occurs when your gums are not properly taken care of. The condition can eventually lead to inflammation and infection. When someone has a chronic health condition like heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes, their chances of being diagnosed with a gum disease increase.

Gum disease often leads to the inflammation of your tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. The condition arises due to poor dental hygiene. Gum disease is a widely occurring condition. It is characterized by red, swollen,  gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth.

You can have gum infection when food debris mixes with saliva and bacteria in your mouth. Resulting in the formation of plaque that sticks to the teeth surfaces. If you do not remove plaque forcefully by brushing, it can become mineralized. Finally, it forms tartar or calculus, a hard coating on your teeth. 

3 Herpes

Oral herpes, is a common infection observed in the oral cavity. It is caused by herpes virus type 1. It affects around 50 percent and 80 percent of adults who live in the USA.

4 Oral cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control, oral cancer is a common disease, and the number of people diagnosed has increased over the past decades. Some of the risk factors that increase one’s chances of being diagnosed with oral cancer typically include the use of tobacco, having a weak immune system, and abusing alcohol.

How to Prevent Diseases in The Oral Cavity

To avoid being diagnosed with one of the many oral diseases present today, you must maintain good oral health care. Good care includes brushing daily, flossing, eating nutritious foods, avoiding tobacco products, and consuming too much alcohol. These small steps can provide long term benefits.

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Do you think you currently have an oral disease? As you can see, there are several types of oral diseases that individuals can be diagnosed with nowadays. When you live with these oral diseases it means that your oral health is in need of improvement. And the sooner you visit your dentist the better. 

Remember that oral diseases do not go away on their own. Instead, you will need professional dental treatment in order to correct or treat them. If you have any questions about diseases related to your oral cavity, call your dentist today.

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