For years, people have attributed their mouth problems to family genes. But new research shows that you can’t blame genetics for bad teeth. It happens because of bad mouth bacteria and fungus that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Inherited microbes, not genes
Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Maryland studied the oral health of twins ages 5 to 11. They discovered that people inherit some mouth microbes from their parents. But the studies showed these microbes do not cause cavities. In fact, the number of hereditary mouth bacteria decreases with age.
The mouth contains over 700 types of bacteria. Most are healthy microbes that occur naturally and help breakdown foods and protect your teeth and oral tissues. But some mouth bacteria are harmful and can cause tooth decay and gum disease. The two most common bad bacteria are:
- Streptococcus mutants– This bacteria feeds on sugars and starches found in food particles that get caught in the teeth and gums. If not removed by daily brushing and flossing, they can cause tooth decay.
- Porphyromonas gingivalis– Normally this bacteria microbe is not found in a healthy mouth. But if it develops, it’s a sign of gum disease, or periodontitis. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that attacks the tissues and bones that support the teeth. If left untreated, the bacteria can cause tooth loss.
Oral care tips
You can take good care of your teeth and gums by following these tips:
- Brush teeth twice daily, after breakfast and at bedtime, for two minutes each time. Don’t forget to carefully brush your tongue to remove bacteria that can collect on the surface.
- Floss teeth once a day.
- Rinse mouth with a non-alcoholic mouth rinse to remove food particles and kill harmful bacteria.
- Schedule professional cleanings, as directed by your dentist.
- Eat nutritious foods including a good mix of vegetables, fruits, dairy and lean meats.
- Limit sugary snacks, desserts and beverages.
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