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Updated 19 November 2018

What causes bacteria in your mouth?

Here's a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly bacteria in your mouth. (Sponsored by Listerine)

Don’t panic, but your mouth is full of germs, bacteria and even fungi! There are more than 700 different types of bacteria in the human mouth, according to a study reported by the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.  

Your mouth naturally contains a balance of good and bad bacteria. However, poor dental hygiene can cause harmful bacteria to grow and accumulate. Here are a few things to know about the ecosystem in your mouth: 

Which types of bacteria live in your mouth? 

Out of the 700 different types of bacteria in the mouth, most of them occur naturally and luckily do no harm. There are bacteria, like probiotics, that can support your overall health as well as oral wellness. Every human being ingests bacteria daily in the form of probiotics, either unintentionally as contaminants of food, or intentionally, in processed foods such as yogurt, fermented milk or cheese, according to the South African Dental Journal

There are, however, bacteria that can contribute to dental decay and gum disease. Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria identified the most with tooth decay, according to the 4th edition of Medical Microbiology. It lives in your mouth and feeds on the sugars and starches that you eat. 

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What happens if the wrong bacteria take over your mouth?  

Bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease are a few of the things that can result when the wrong types of bacteria accumulate in your mouth.  

“The most likely cause of oral malodour is the accumulation of food debris and dental bacterial plaque on the teeth and tongue, resulting from poor oral hygiene,” writes Prof Stephen Porter, Director and Professor of Oral Medicine of UCL Eastman Dental Institute.  

When thick bacteria clings to gums and teeth, you could even develop a gum disease. If your gums are puffy or you see blood in the sink when you brush, you might be looking at gingivitis. If left untreated and you experience severe gum and bone damage, it could be the more advanced periodontitis, according to Listerine.   

How to tackle bacteria in your mouth?  

Brush and floss daily  

It usually takes 12 to 24 hours for enough plaque to gather in your mouth to support bacteria. By brushing and flossing at least once a day, you can remove most of this build up.  

Rinse your mouth daily 

The truth is that brushing alone only reaches 25% of your mouth, according to Listerine. The power of a quick swish of mouthwash fights bacteria in your whole mouth, teeth and gums. Research shows that antimicrobial Listerine mouthwash kills oral bacteria within 30 seconds.  

Cut back on sweets 

You’re not the only one who loves sugary snack foods — so do bacteria like Streptococcus mutans. The more sugar and other carbohydrates they feast on, the more they produce acid that will build up on your teeth.  

No bacteria is beyond the control of proper tooth brushing, flossing and mouth washing. A twice-daily routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash like LISTERINE® will remove most forms of bacteria. Make sure to brush your tongue, too. 

This post is sponsored by Listerine produced by Brandstudio24 for Health24. 

 
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