MadSci Network: Microbiology

Re: what type of bacteria do we have in our mouth?

Date: Tue Mar 7 09:14:25 2000
Posted By: Edward Balkovic, Ph.D., Pharmaceutical Microbiology (Quality Control), Genzyme Corporation
Area of science: Microbiology
ID: 952207637.Mi

What types of bacteria do we have in our mouth?

The microflora of the mouth is very complex. Since the mouth serves an important portal of entry into the body, it also provides access to a wide variety of both aerobic (need oxygen to live) and anaerobic (live in the absence of oxygen) microbes. Saliva may contain up to 1,000,000,000 bacteria per milliliter. The types of microbes found in the oral cavity include: streptococci, staphylococci, corynebacteria, neisseria, lactobacilli, candida, and many others.

The types of microbes recovered will vary based on the sites within the mouth that are studied. Streptococcus mutans is an important colonizer on the surface of teeth, especially in people that eat a high sucrose (sugar) diet. These bacteria will break down the sugar and produce substances that help them to stick to the tooth surface. When this sugar is broken down, a lot of lactic acid will be produced. The production of lactic acid lowers the pH (increases the level of acidity) in the mouth, which will aid in the growth of lactobacilli. If one studies the crevices between the teeth and gums, a large number of anaerobic microbes can be found. These crevices are microenvironments with low levels or an absence of oxygen, thus favoring these anaerobic microbes.

Additional information can be found at your local library in textbooks on medical, dental, or oral microbiology.

Good luck on your project,
Ed Balkovic, PhD

The opinions expressed above are my own and may not reflect those of my employer.

Koneman's Diagnostic Microbiology

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