An apple a day? How about adding a sprinkling of bacteria with that?
It might sound counter-intuitive but I’m not talking about just any bacteria. As mentioned in previous posts, we have over 500 types of bacteria in our oral cavity. Our mouths are after all the gateway to our stomachs, so it’s not hard to believe this is the case. And much like other parts of the body, some are friendly…and some are not!
A recent article by Debbie Z. Sabatini for RDM magazine discusses the battle between good and evil occurring in our mouths (right now) and how there is a general lack of education on what actually causes plaque and gum disease.
“What do you suppose the patient's response would be if we truthfully communicated the exact definition of pathogenic biofilm during the data collection portion of our risk assessment appointment? I believe it would finally put to rest the circulating fable that bacterial plaque accumulation is just from not brushing or flossing enough."
Whilst our bodies have naturally evolved to protect us, it is a difficult fight against colonies of bacteria that form dense layers that can dissolve skin, enamel and even bone – a.k.a ‘the biofilm’.
This biofilm is most evident to us as furry, yellow plaque, but perhaps even more damaging in the less visible form in the early stages of gum disease. How many people in the general population actually understand how these bacteria operate?
“Let's find the time to explain that the pathogenic biofilm that overpowers protective and preventive beneficial bacteria in our mouths eventually breaks down enamel by the release of lactic acid.”
So in basic terms, the bacteria in the biofilm adhere onto surfaces in our mouths, protect themselves by forming colonies, and sustain by dissolving teeth, bone and tissue through lactic acid - ick.
All of this begs the question; how well do we understand the role of modern day hygiene products in our general oral health? And by removing those pesky bad bacteria through brushing, flossing and drowning them in chemicals…does this also kill the friendly microbes our bodies produce naturally to help stop them forming into a biofilm.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t brush your teeth – far from it! Just that much is still unknown about gum disease and general periodontal health and we could all be better educated around dental health. Maybe the combined forces of removing the bacteria, whilst boosting the population of friendly bacteria through and oral probiotic could be just the ticket. Sabatini agrees:
The key to maintaining oral health is to embrace its microbial ecosystem and its unique ability to thrive from exposure at birth until death. Now, with a better understanding of biofilm and probiotics, we can proactively impact the oral health of our patients and minimize the need for invasive dental or pharmacological oral care.
You can read the full article here - The probiotic effect: Analyzing a regimen that's ready to fight pathogenic biofilm. Debbie Z. Sabatini