Our mouth is an ecology of bacteria. It can be a good community or a bad one. If you eat a narrow highly processed food diet, it will be a bad one. We eat food that promotes bad bacteria and we use chemicals that kill any good bacteria. The better option is to eat a better diet and to work to enhance the good. Here is a good guide to all of this:
“Dental bacteria aren’t necessarily bad. They’re just some of the trillions of microbes that share our body, and that are as much a part of us as our own flesh and blood. Those in our guts get the most attention and are involved in digesting our food. But microbes abound in other body parts too. Some of those in the mouth are involved in repairing damage to teeth and barring the way to more dangerous germs.
As Europeans moved from hunting and gathering to farming and agriculture, these oral communities changed from healthy, diverse ones into those that we’d typically associate with disease. The advent of processed flour and sugar during the Industrial Revolution made things even worse. “You see the diversity plummet, and the rise to dominance of opportunistic nasties such as Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities,” says Cooper.
Our mouths are now a gentrified shadow of their former selves. And as Carl Zimmer described earlier this week, ecosystems with an impoverished web of species are more vulnerable to parasites. He was writing about frogs and lakes, but the same is true of bacteria and mouths. The narrow range of microbes in industrialised gobs are more vulnerable to invasions by species that cause disease, cavities, and other dental problems. “As an ecosystem, it has lost resilience,” says Cooper. “It basically became a permanent disease state.”