This article is the second in the series on how to balance your oral flora and be a ‘good conductor’ for the symphony in your mouth.
In the first article, How to Balance Your Oral Flora, we introduced the oral microbiome and debunked the overly simplistic cultural myth that ‘all plaque (biofilm) is bad’. Now we want to walk this story one step further and explore together whether some plaques may actually help our teeth stay healthy.
When we think about dental plaque, we tend to imagine the gory photos of the ‘end game’ level of the lifecycle of a plaque colony where calculus has formed and the individual has all sorts of problems going on in their mouth.
However, you know from the first article in the series, that biofilms have a lifecycle and strategies exist how we can help maintain biofilm in the health giving zone and away from the zone that encourages tooth decay and gum disease.
An important part of the story is a little known structure called ‘dental pellicle’. The pellicle is essentially the beginning biofilm on teeth after cleaning. Formed by proteins from saliva, pellicle is a thin protein layer that coats our teeth.
Like we discussed in the first article, pellicle provides the ‘platform’ for oxygen loving bacteria to attach which begins the lifecycle of a plaque colony.
How some types of biofilm protect our teeth from demineralization…
Our culture likes to blame ‘bad bugs’ as being the cause of tooth decay. And while microbes are part of the story of tooth decay, it’s not the whole story. Another major contributor to demineralizing enamel and weakening our teeth is exposing our teeth to acidic foods and drinks.
(Incidentally, here are a couple good articles for those of you interested in diving deeper into why teeth decay and the #1 cause of tooth decay and here’s a good article if you want to learn strategies how to stop acidic foods and drinks from demineralizing your teeth.)
It turns out that the pellicle and the thin biofilm that attaches to the pellicle play an important role in keeping acids in foods we eat and drink from having direct contact with our teeth. The thin biofilm provides a ‘buffer zone’ and literally takes the acid bath ‘hit’ for our teeth which protects the enamel from demineralization.
With this, you can see that the ‘scorched earth’ policy to maintain teeth completely free from bacteria not only isn’t possible, but may actually cause us to lose one layer of protection for our teeth.
Interestingly, our ancestors were very aware of the benefits of saliva for not only our oral health but health of the whole body. Here’s a video tutorial on a simple practice to increase resistance to tooth decay AND improving digestion. We call it ‘Mouth Probiotics‘
The secret to balancing your oral flora – how to be a good conductor for the symphony in your mouth
In studying the lifecycle of a plaque colony from the first article in this series, the path to optimal oral health came into clarity.
It’s all about keeping the biofilm thin and clear,
so the colony doesn’t become sticky and thick,
which leads to a shift in the amount of oxygen in the biofilm,
which encourages a shift in the type of microbes that thrive in the biofilm.
So the game is to keep biofilms thin and in their early phases of development.
While there are many, many ways to manage biofilms to encourage them to stay in the health giving zone that we will discuss in later articles, let’s explore two easy ‘in the mouth’ ways we accomplish this goal and can be good conductors for the symphony in our mouths.
1. Practice ‘Conscious’ Oral Hygiene
Health giving oral hygiene definitely helps keep the biofilm in the early phase of development by disrupting plaque accumulation. Learning how to consciously brush your teeth to reduce decay and gum disease as well as how to floss consciously, really do go a long way toward being a good steward of our oral micro biome.
2. Understand ‘Adhesion Inhibition’
The other strategy is to make it more difficult for the bacterial colonies naturally living in our mouths from sticking to our teeth. Interrupting this process of microbes from building up the thickness of the biofilm is called ‘adhesion inhibition’.
Those of you familiar with using our HealThy Mouth Blend know the really slick, clean feeling you get after brushing with our product. This is the feeling of adhesion inhibition at work in your mouth.
You see, one of the factors that determined what organic essential oils we used in the formulation of our HealThy Mouth Blend was to include the most effective plant essences for inhibiting adhesion known in the scientific literature.
The good news is even if you have mature plaque colonies already formed in your mouth, the scientific literature is now proving that essential oil based oral health products like our HealThy Mouth Blend do effectively penetrate mature plaque formations and break up their strangle hold on our oral health. (1)
Using conscious oral hygiene and understanding adhesion inhibition, we can encourage pellicle formation and at the same time discourage the plaque colony from maturing into the low oxygen environment that provides an ideal zone for ‘bad bugs’ to proliferate and damage our health.
Stay tuned for future articles in this series where we will explore:
- a highly overlooked vitamin that can drastically lower the amount of plaque in your mouth
- a simple strategy to encourage a healthier balance of the beneficial microbes in our oral micro biome
All of which will help you balance your oral flora.
Do you find this information helpful? Why or why not? Please share any comments or stories related to this subject in the comments below.
May your bright, healthy smile bless you and those around you today and always…
Helpful, Related Resources:
How to Balance Your Oral Flora [article]
What Causes Tooth Decay (and How to Stop it) [article]
Discovering the #1 Cause of Tooth Decay [article]
How to Drink Kombucha and NOT Destroy Your Teeth [article]
HealThy Mouth Blend [product solution]