Do You Have Mouth Bacteria?

A personal question, perhaps, but do you have mouth bacteria?

Did you know scientists have detected over 700 species of human mouth bacteria?1

And before you yelp, yuck - mouth bacteria! and insist that YOU don't have bacteria in your mouth, let me assure you that you do. But it's a good thing - honest!

You won't have all of those 700+ species in your mouth. It would be a bit crowded! The average person in good oral health has between 34 and 72 different types of bacteria in their mouth.1

Not all bacteria are bad. Many of them are find upstanding individuals within the bug world. Your mouth (and most of your insides) is teeming with bacteria and that is a healthy state of affairs. The good bacteria, of which there are many, outnumber the bad.

Research was done on healthy subjects to find just what was growing where, and they discovered that most sites within the mouth had 20-30 predominant species. And while some bacteria were specific to one person and would be found at each site in that person's mouth, others were site specific and would be found within everyone's mouth at that particular site.

None of the subjects in this study had bad breath or untreated tooth decay, nor had any used antibiotics in the previous six months so that the researchers did seem to be peering into a group of remarkably healthy mouths. What they found in there are the bacteria we should all have in our mouth.

Streptococcus salivarius was spotted on the tongue of these healthy individuals where it was one the predominant species to inhabit that area.1 Now the wrong sort of bacteria on the tongue is one of the prime causes of bad breath so interesting to see that in the healthy mouth this spot is wall-to-wall with beneficial bacteria.

No wonder these people have clean fresh breath.

The K12 subspecies of this bacteria is being used in the fight against bad breath with much success. That is the strain you want in your mouth.

Bacteria were found from 6 different phyla1(that's a couple of divisions up from the family name)

  • Firmicutes - This included members of the genus Streptococcus, Gemella, Eubacterium, Selenomonas and Veillonella.

  • Actinobacteria - Including members of Actinomyces, Atopobium, Rothia

  • Proteobacteria - Including members of Neisseria, Eikenella, Campylobacter

  • Bacteroidetes - Including members of Porphyromonas, Prevotella, Capnocytophaga

  • Fusobacteria - Including members of Fusobacterium, Leptotrichia

  • TM7 phylum (for which there are no cultivable representatives)
Streptococcus mitis was the most commonly found species being present in all the subjects at all the sites. In fact, in one person 79% of the clones identified belonged to S mitis.1

Now, don't panic at that list. Remember, these are the normal bacteria residing in the HEALTHY human mouth. They may not be probiotics, which actively do you good, but they're not doing you any harm. You certainly do not need to blast these guys with antimicrobial mouthwashes. We simply don't know what half of these mouth bacteria might be doing for us.

They were all found in the oral microflora of healthy human mouths.

Live and let live, I say!



1. Aas JA, Paster BJ, Stokes LN, Olsen I, Dewhirst FE. Defining the normal bacterial flora of the oral cavity. Journal of Clinical Microbiology Nov 2005 p 5721-5732, vol 43 no 11