This article is the second in the series on how to be a ‘good conductor’ of 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’.
In this second article, we’ll walk this forward a little more and explore whether some plaques may actually help our teeth to stay healthy.
When we think about dental plaque, we tend to imagine the gory photos of the third level of a plaque colony’s life cycle (the one where calculus has formed and the individual has all sorts of problems going on in their mouth).
However, as you know from the first article in this series, we can take action to help keep our biofilms in the health-giving, early life cycle phase and away from the later phases that encourage 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 that forms on our teeth after we clean them. It’s a thin protein layer (formed by proteins from our saliva) that coats our teeth.
As we discussed in the first article, oxygen-loving bacteria attach themselves to the pellicle, and thus begins the life cycle of a plaque colony.
How some types of biofilm protect our teeth from demineralization…
Our culture likes to blame ‘thug bugs’ as being the one and only cause of tooth decay. While microbes play a part in the story of tooth decay, there are also other factors that have a role here.
For example, exposing our teeth to acidic foods and drinks can also contribute to demineralizing enamel and weakening teeth.
(Incidentally, here are some good articles for those of you who are interested in learning more about why teeth decay and the #1 cause of tooth decay. Also, here’s a good article if you want to learn strategies for how to stop acidic foods and drinks from demineralizing your teeth.)
It turns out that the pellicle and the thin biofilm that attaches to it can help prevent food and drink acids from having direct contact with our teeth. The thin biofilm provides a ‘buffer zone’ and takes the brunt of the acid bath for our teeth, which protects the enamel from demineralization.
That’s why it’s best to avoid brushing your teeth right before eating or drinking, especially if your food/beverage is acidic.
With this information in place, it’s easy to see why it’s not a good idea to try to keep our teeth completely free from bacteria. It just isn’t possible to accomplish this, and even if it were, doing so might actually cause us to lose one layer of protection for our teeth.
Interestingly, our ancestors were very aware of saliva’s benefits for both our oral health and the health of the whole body. Here’s a video tutorial on a simple exercise that helps increase resistance to tooth decay AND improve digestion. We call it ‘Mouth Probiotics‘.
The secret to balancing your oral flora – how to be a good conductor of the symphony in your mouth
The path to optimal oral health is all about keeping oral biofilms thin and clear. Our goal here is to prevent them from becoming sticky and thick.
Thicker, sticky biofilms shift to low-oxygen environments, 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.
There are many ways to manage biofilms and encourage them to stay in the health-giving zone. For now, let’s explore two easy, ‘in-the-mouth’ strategies we can use to accomplish this goal and be good conductors of the symphony in our mouths.
1. Practice ‘conscious’ oral hygiene
Health-giving oral hygiene practices definitely help to disrupt plaque accumulation and keep the biofilm in the early phase of development.
Learning how to consciously brush your teeth to reduce decay, use a specialized technique for preventing gum disease, and floss consciously really do go a long way toward being a good steward of our oral microbiome.
2. Leverage ‘adhesion inhibition’
The other strategy is to make it more difficult for the bacterial colonies in our mouths to stick to our teeth and gums. The term for this process of preventing microbes from building up the thickness of the biofilm is ‘adhesion inhibition’.
Those of you who use our HealThy Mouth Blend are familiar with the really slick, clean feeling you get after brushing with it. This is the feeling of adhesion inhibition at work in your mouth.
You see, scientific literature states,
“...manuka oil showed significant adhesion-inhibiting activity against P. gingivalis.” (1)
That’s why we included manuka oil in the formulation of our HealThy Mouth Blend.
If you’d like to read more about the role of each ingredient in our HealThy Mouth Blend, feel free to check out our article, “What’s in the HealThy Mouth Blend? (And why is it so effective?)“. And if you’re on the fence about using (properly diluted) essential oils in your oral hygiene routine, you might find it helpful to read our article, “Are essential oils safe to use in the mouth?“.
Even if you already have mature plaque colonies in your mouth, there’s good news. The scientific research 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 stranglehold on our oral health. (2)
We can encourage pellicle formation by using conscious oral hygiene techniques and leveraging adhesion inhibition. At the same time, these strategies help us to discourage the plaque colony from maturing into the low-oxygen environment that provides an ideal zone for ‘thug bugs’ to proliferate and damage our health.
For additional strategies to help balance your oral flora, feel free to check out other articles in this series where we explore:
- an often-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 microbiome
Did 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]
The 3 times it’s best to NOT brush your teeth [article]
Mouth Probiotics [video tutorial]
How to Brush Your Teeth to Stop Tooth Decay [video tutorial]
How to Brush Your Teeth to Reduce Gum Disease [video tutorial]
HealThy Mouth Blend [[product solution]]
How to floss and NOT damage your gums [video tutorial]
What’s in the HealThy Mouth Blend? (And why is it so effective?) [article]
Are essential oils safe to use in the mouth? [article]
An easy step toward stopping tooth decay [article]
How to rebalance your oral microbiome and remineralize your teeth [article]