There is a battle being fought for the ecological space in your mouth, a battle which is ongoing every day. There are many microscopic organisms that thrive in moist warm places where there is plenty of “food” available. The mouth is such a place. It is moist all the time, it is warm at blood heat, and there is an abundant supply of various food stuffs left over from our diet, and importantly from the desquamated cells of the constantly shed mucosal lining of the oral cavity.
We could give the members of the army of occupiers that colonize our mouths names, like “streptococcus mutans” and while it might be erudite it can possibly complicate unduly the basic message being communicated here. It is impossible to eradicate bacteria from our mouths. Our bodies are covered with bacteria, they reside in every crevice, every nook and cranny, every entrance to the body’s chambers. They all have specific types of bacteria that thrive in each location, varying complements that balance each other and are especially well suited to each area sometimes supporting their mutual survival in a synergistic way.
The presence of one type of bacteria may enhance the opportunity for survival of another, and here in lies a particularly interesting conundrum. While we might not want a particular bacteria in our body cavities, their presence actually prevents other organisms that would be much more harmful to us from colonizing the space in their stead. A brief example of this can be drawn from the number of time we here that so and so does not want to take antibiotics again, because every time(s) they take them, they get a yeast infection. This is a simple demonstration that if we disturb the naturally occurring bacterial complement by taking a medication, we run the risk of potentiating an opportunistic infection which was being kept at bay by the commensal bacterial that form the ground guard of that space.
The bottom line then is that we need commensal colonizing organisms to prevent more hostile invasion and occupation by other more virulent and damaging life forms. These might not be only bacterial, they can be yeasts and fungi and viruses.
So with this in mind, what is the problem for dentists and why would I bother to write this post for my patients and friends. Basic biology teaches us that all living organisms have seven vital characteristics, they respond to stimulus, they grow and repair, they pass genetic material from one generation to another, they metabolize nutrient materials upon which the survive, they move, they respire, and they excrete waste materials that they no longer need, these are the by products of their life cycle. It is this last vital characteristic, the excretion, that causes all the trouble for you and the dentists the justification for his job.