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Did you know that your teeth and gums (and tongue) are not the only things living in your mouth? There is a virtually invisible community of bacteria residing in your mouth. The average adult has 100 to 200 species of bacteria living in their mouth. Even those taking good care of their teeth have 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria living on each tooth surface.

Don’t be alarmed, most of those are not harmful and in fact, probiotics are actually beneficial, but some are not so friendly. Streptococcus is a bacteria living in the mouth and feeds on sugars and starches left behind after every meal, creating acid. If this acid is not removed, it grows into plaque, a sticky film that coats the teeth and hardens into tartar if not removed by a daily brushing and flossing routine. You generally can’t see the bacterial film because it is colorless, but you can feel it. Run your tongue along the back of your teeth, near the gum line. Feel that roughness? That’s the bacteria building up.

How it Happens

First, bacterial acid breaks down tooth enamel by stripping minerals the enamel, creating holes.
Second, these holes expose the sensitive dentin layer beneath the enamel. It is even more vulnerable to the effects of acid erosion, because it is softer.

Third, bacterial acid continues to wear down the tooth’s structure until it reaches the pulp, which houses the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels.

Fourth, this acid then irritate the pulp until is swells, resulting in severe toothache, sensitivity, and pain upon chewing.

And finally, once the pulp becomes abscessed, this infection creates a pocket of pus where the body sends white blood cells to fight it.

How to Protect Your Mouth

— Brush and floss twice daily.
— Use an antimicrobial mouthwash once a day to reduce bacteria.
— Increase saliva production to avoid dry mouth. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of H2O, a healthy choice that won’t harm your chompers.
— Consume a healthy, balanced diet using the recommended food groups. Be wary of snacking between meals, as this perpetually coats your teeth with sugars and starches that feed the bacteria, creating acid.
— See your dentist every year for cleanings to remove tartar and check for gum disease. If you are cavity prone it is recommended to have this done every six months.

At Mill Creek General Dentistry, Dr. Kerry Olszewski and her team are here to help you keep cavities at bay. We invite you to give us a call at 425-337-5549 if you have any questions or would like to schedule your next appointment!