Image of Cartoon Eyes-Where Are The Bugs Harming Your Teeth and Gums Hiding?

Where Are The Bugs Harming Your Teeth and Gums Hiding?
image courtesy Craig Sommer DDS

How Do I Recognize Bacteria?

Are bacteria causing my dental problems, you ask? Maybe. You can’t easily find individual bacteria with the naked eye. You have to use a microscope. And one of the best types of microscopes is what’s called a phase contrast microscope. This allows you to see live bacteria (also known as germs or bugs) swimming in a drop of water placed on a clear glass microscope slide. Unless you have the opportunity to take a microbiology class and actually take a sample of plaque from around your own teeth and look at it under a microscope you may be totally unaware of what’s happening on the microscopic level.

The variety of bacteria found in your mouth is quite amazing. These are called indigenous bacteria. They are the native bacteria. Some are shaped like little spheres joined together, others look like small little rods and others spindle shaped. Others have little tails they use to swim. Others are corkscrew shaped and spin and drill themselves into living tissues. Others are blobs that slowly push and shove their way into the nooks and crannies of your mouth.


Not All Bacteria Are Destructive, But Some Are Incredibly Destructive.

Not all of these bacteria are destructive.  Some are very, very destructive. The more destructive bacteria types tend to thrive in the deeper little cuffs, crevices, or gum pockets around each tooth. In these deeper crevices, farther from the surface, there is less oxygen.  The bacteria that tend to proliferate here are called anaerobic bacteria, and they are aggressive destroyers of healthy gum and bone tissue.

Higher oxygen levels create an aerobic environment, one that discourages the growth of bad bacteria. So a way of changing the environment to favor healthy bacteria is to find a way to bring oxygen into the crevices around the teeth. This shifts the balance from bad bacteria to good bacteria.

This balance must be constantly shifted away from the “dark side”, with low oxygen levels, to minimize the risks to whole body health. If you let things slide for a while, you’ll grow a new crop of bad bacteria and the destruction starts all over again.

Bacteria live wherever food remains on or between the teeth. They live in thin invisible layers right in plain view on the surfaces of each tooth. The colonies spread out until they form a thin film (a bio-film) over every tooth surface in your mouth. They are responsible for the white coating on your tongue. They are responsible for the teeth feeling fuzzy, as if they are wearing sweaters.


Bacteria Also Hide In The Little Crevices That Exist Around Each Tooth.

They live in gum crevices that are like a turtleneck or cuff of tissue that surrounds each tooth. In these areas, also called pockets, bad bacteria digest away dead gum cells gradually eating their way to the ends of the roots of your teeth. If they are successful they topple one tooth after another. It’s a battle and you need to stay engaged.

While this gum destruction takes place, your heart and brain and internal organs suffer needless exposure to a succession of small blood clots. Each small clot causes contributes to more cumulative internal organ damage until the big one hits. Then someone finally recognizes that something terrible has been going on. You might have had your first heart attack or stroke or maybe your last one. Then it will be too late to do something.


Image Of Disclosing Solutions Revealing Bacteria  On Teeth

Disclosing Solutions Revealing Bacteria On Teeth
Courtesy Craig Sommer DDS

The Big Reveal.

Stains are available that peel back the camouflage and reveal the extent of bacterial invasion. Use the specific plaque stains after rinsing with water and before brushing.

Look carefully at your teeth and gums before you use the disclosing solution or tablets.  You may want to take a photo to compare how things look at several stages.

Then grade yourself. So, how are you doing? Not so good? Check out the next article and you’ll begin to get a good handle on this dental care situation.