When dentists talk about “preventing dental biofilm”, what we really mean is preventing plaque. Plaque is one type of dental biofilm, and a particularly harmful one. However, to really understand the concept of biofilm, you need to understand the concept of a microbiome.
Your mouth’s microbiome is a lot like a perfectly balanced pasta sauce. In a perfect sauce, you add a little bit of one ingredient and a little bit of another. Too much of one and too little of another will throw the taste out of balance and make it unappetizing.
Your microbiome is very similar. If the bacteria in your mouth aren’t perfectly balanced, then you end up with too much of the wrong type of biofilm. This results in gum disease.
How is your mouth’s microbiome thrown out of balance?
A lack of balance in your nutrition can throw your microbiome out of balance. One of the most obvious ways to do this is to consume too much sugar. Eating too much sugary food will cause sugar-digesting bacteria to thrive. Think of your mouth as an ecosystem. In an ecosystem where rabbits have no natural predators, the rabbit population will go out of control. This could result in damage to plant life. Other animals that feed on that plant life will have to compete with them. They may die off or their population could dwindle down to nothing. The only thing that will keep the bunny population in check is the introduction of a natural predator into the environment.
What does sugar do to your mouth? Well, sugar makes it easy for gum disease-causing bacteria to grow and thrive. The natural predator is other bacteria competing for food in your mouth. If there is too little of one bacteria’s food and too much of the other, the bacteria with the most food will thrive while the other bacteria dwindles. Now, your microbiome is out of alignment.
Since we now have an excess of sugar-eating bacteria in our mouth, those sugar-eating bacteria consume the excess sugar. At the same time, these bacteria produce acid and release gasses that damage tooth enamel. Once the tooth enamel is damaged, you get a cavity.
How is this different from what you were taught?
Most people are taught that you accrue gunk on your teeth and you’re supposed to brush it off. While that is technically true, it does not tell the full story. Nor does it show us how nutrition plays a very large role in our overall oral health. The explanation is useful toward getting people to take brushing and flossing seriously, but it doesn’t really describe what’s going on in your mouth. There are proactive steps you can take to reduce your overall risk of plaque and cavities. Understanding your mouth’s microbiome and biofilm are two key steps to a healthy mouth.
Talk to a Flagstaff, AZ Dentist to Remove Dental Biofilm Today
For any questions concerning your diet or proactive steps you can take to improve your oral health, please feel free to call Peak Family Dental Care in Cottonwood. We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have!