Guess what? Living cozily inside your mouth right now are about 700 species of microbes.
They happily reside on your teeth, gums, tongue, the insides of your cheeks, the roof and floor of your mouth, even your tonsils. Some of them protect your health, and some of them are associated with cavities, gum disease, and infections like tonsilitis.
Would you like to meet your neighbors? At a high (phylum) level, their names are:
Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Actinobacteria, Spirochaetes, and Fusobacteria (most prevalent), and Euryarchaeota, Chlamydia, Chloroflexi, SR1, Synergistetes, Tenericutes, and TM7 (less prevalent).
These are kind of like names of major ethnic groups, and you can drill down all the way to the level of individual first names like S. pyogenes.
What’s important for a healthy mouth seems to be having the right diversity and balance of the bacteria in your mouth, and scientists are still working on modeling how all the different species interact with each other.
Stay tuned for breaking research about the oral microbiome in the months and years to come – imagine finding out the bacterial balance in people with lots of cavities, compared to people that have never had a cavity at all! And if you’d like to be part of it and help speed up discoveries, feel free to join our gut plus mouth study.
Guess what else? When you kiss someone, you’re passing millions of bacteria back and forth. Which, while fascinating, might not be quite the best thing to say to your Valentine in a moment of passion this weekend.