Your Oral Health – Anaerobic Bacteria by Dr. Glenn MacFarlane

Your Oral Health – Anaerobic Bacteria by Dr. Glenn MacFarlane

In reality, we all have a dirty mouth, regardless of the words that come out of it. Everyone’s mouth is full of various types of organisms and that environment is constantly changing.

Just the very word BACTERIA can send dread to everyone old enough to understand.  Now add the word BACTERIA in relation to your mouth!  After the last 3 years of constant talk of infections and disease, you are tempted to start boiling and bleaching everything around.

We are constantly exposed to bacteria, whether it is in the water we breath, the food we eat, the person we kiss. Some of these visitors are helpful, some are harmful. The balance between these bacteria shifts because of a poor diet, poor oral hygiene, and other health issues. The shift can cause the harmful bacteria to take over.  Your body’s immune system keeps these organisms under control…. generally speaking. If your immune system is compromised or challenged…not so much.

There are actually 700 different species that live in different microbial sub-habitats in the mouth: teeth, tongue, lip, cheek, hard palate, soft palate, and tonsils. This collection of microorganisms is known as a microbiome.

Categories of Bacteria

  • Aerobic bacteria love oxygen and are the most common type of organism in the mouth.
  • Anaerobic cannot survive in a high oxygen environment.
  • Facultative anaerobes can switch from being aerobes to anaerobes.
  • Fungi compete with bacteria and are mostly oxygen loving. These include yeasts, molds, and Candida Albicans.

Let’s focus on Anaerobic Bacteria. The anti-oxygen nature of these bacteria means they are generally only found in areas of the body where tissues are poorly aerated, such as the intestines, nose, throat, and mouth. This type of Bacteria does not use oxygen for growth and metabolism but obtains energy from fermentation reactions.

The spectrum of anaerobic infection ranges from local abscesses to life-threatening infections. Common sites of anaerobic infections include oral, abdominal, and pelvic cavities; however, anaerobes can cause infections of other regions such as the head, neck, and skin.

Anaerobic Bacteria are the primary cause of bad breath due to their ability to consume vast amounts of proteins and excrete foul-smelling volatile sulfur compounds because of rapidly digesting the proteins in the mouth. About 25% of people worldwide, however, have chronic foul breath. Researchers around the world figured out years ago that gas-emitting bacteria on the tongue and below the gum line are largely responsible for rotten breath.

If your mouth tends to be dry, you have a harder time with bad breath because the dryness causes an even more airless environment, which bacteria love.

Many people try skipping foods that cause bad breath. Brushing, flossing and tongue scraping can improve breath temporarily.  Mouthwash which claims to kill bacteria can also help in the short term.  Some mouthwashes merely mask unpleasant odors, alcohol-based rinses sold in drugstores and prescription rinses containing chlorhexidine or other antiseptics target all oral bacteria, stinky and otherwise. Those mouthwashes can last and improve breath for as long as 24 hours. You do not want to do this too often; it dries the mouth and kills the good bacteria too.

There is recent evidence that nurturing the helpful bacteria in the mouth will assist in destroying the offensive germs on the tongue, gum and teeth and the smelly waste products they release.

The bigger problem than halitosis is when anaerobic bacteria in plaque release a variety of proteins into your body.  The minerals in saliva can cause plaque to harden between teeth, or tarter. Tarter is loaded with bacteria.  They can penetrate the lining of the gums, causing problems in places beyond the mouth. There is a lot of blood-flow in the gums, making it easy for pathogens, toxins, and other harmful complexes to distribute to other regions of the body through the bloodstream.

Oral Bacteria can affect other parts of your body if not caught early:

  • Heart– Oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream can affect blood vessels or cause blood clots. This can increase general inflammation which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
  • Lungs– Oral bacteria breathed in can cause an anaerobic infection of the lungs which can lead to a higher risk of pneumonia, especially in the elderly.
  • Joints– Oral bacteria that enter the bloodstream are a contributing factor in the cause and development of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Bones– The presence of both oral bacteria and osteoporosis can accelerate the weakening, breakdown, and loss of alveolar bone in the jaw.

Just like in sports, the best defense is a good offense.  Brushing twice daily, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups are the best ways to control oral bacteria, and reduce your risk of developing other general health disorders. Regular dental exams can catch infections before they become an even bigger health issue.

Dr. Glenn MacFarlane earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, graduating in 1985. As an aesthetic focused dentist, he has been dedicated almost 38 years now, to brightening thousands of smiles. He is an expert cosmetic dentist with extensive training in complete smile restoration, using the latest technology and restorative materials dentistry has to offer.

Bottom line, you are being treated by a very well-trained dentist who is very respected in the field, and additionally well versed in the whole-body wellness concept, which involves an awareness of dental care as it relates to the entire person.

Questions or concerns? Please reach out to us to let us better explain Holistic Dentistry and how it can improve your dental health and life overall.

211 Broad Street, Suite 106,
Red Bank, NJ 07701

(732) 517-7785

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