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How does the oral mucosa protect you from viruses and bacteria?

How does the oral mucosa protect you from viruses and bacteria?

What is the mucous membrane?

The mucous membrane is a moist mucosal layer that lines cavities within the body. In fact, the mucous membrane extends throughout the body and protects all internal surfaces that are exposed to air, microbes and foreign matter (i.e. dust, food & beverages). These areas include the respiratory, digestive and reproductive tracts.

This viscous lining is kept permanently moist by goblet cells that store and secrete mucins. These mucins form the protective mucous layer known as the mucous membrane.

What is the oral mucosa?

The oral mucosa, also called the oral mucous membrane, is the mucous membrane that lines the oral cavity specifically. This includes the mouth, tongue, inner cheeks, nasal passages and pharynx.

The essential ‘barrier’ immunity function of the oral mucosa

The oral mucosa has a number of protective functions. For example, it protects soft tissues from the mechanical forces of contraction, expansion and shearing when you talk, chew and swallow. It also contains receptors with sensory functions (e.g. the tongue mucosa contains taste buds).

However, the most essential protective function of the oral mucosa is that it acts as your body’s first line of immune defence against oral pathogens and viruses.

Your oral mucosal immune system functions as a barrier or ‘wall’ that separates oral bacteria and viruses from underlying soft tissue (or the serous membrane) thereby preventing infection, bacterial pathogenesis and disease.

Keep your oral mucosa moist through adequate hydration

If you’re thirsty and your lips are dry, there’s a good chance your oral mucosa is too. Keep your oral mucosa moist by drinking adequate amounts of water to maintain hydration.

Best cleaning tools to remove plaque in infants & toddlers (3 months-3 years)

Best cleaning tools to remove plaque in infants & toddlers (3 months-3 years)

You might think that removing plaque happens automatically with brushing their teeth. But not all parents clean their child’s teeth and gums in equal measure. Some opt for a quick light brush and miss the hidden plaque behind teeth. Other more scrupulous parents ensure that 100% of tooth and gum surfaces are thoroughly cleaned with the right cleaning tools – and inspected for missed plaque with a dental mirror! Not surprisingly, it’s the latter group that that has the right attitude towards brushing their child’s teeth – it’s all about removing bacterial plaque every time, wherever it may be in the mouth.

Oral cleaning tools for infant teeth and gums 3-12 months old

Starting oral care for your infant can begin well before their first teeth appear. When your child turns 3 months old, you can gently wipe their gum surfaces with a clean, moist pad, finger gauze or cotton-gauze baby oral cleaner swabs – in the mornings and evenings. Gum care, especially along the gum line where primary teeth are emerging, keeps gums clean and healthy. Check other oral surfaces behind the lips, between the inner cheeks and gums. You’d be surprised by what you can find. Infant tongues need cleaning too with a baby tongue cleaner. Give them a quick sip of some water to wash away dislodged plaque and food residue still remaining in the mouth after you’ve completed cleaning. Drinking lots of water during the day keeps their mouths clean too.

When the first teeth pop up, start using a soft, infant toothbrush or silicone finger toothbrush with water to clean them. You can purchase a wide range of age-specific infant teeth & gum cleaning products from your supermarket or chemist. If your child resists a toothbrush at first, make a slower transition and continue using the moist pad or gauze technique to wipe clean 100% of the surfaces of each individual tooth. Don’t miss their gum line and make it fun with song and games. Your child will look forward to brushing their daily oral care and hygiene routine.

Oral cleaning tools for toddlers teeth and gums 1-3 years old

Toddlers need to have their teeth cleaned twice daily – morning and night – just like everyone else. And they will need your help and supervision while they’re doing it. They’ll be using a toothbrush with water until they reach 18 months after which they brush with a small dab of low-fluoride toothpaste. Focus on cleaning each tooth with 360 degree coverage of tooth surfaces. Young toddlers probably won’t spit or rinse when told, so gently wipe away excess toothpaste residue, but leave a thin smear on teeth for its fluoride benefits. By about the age of 2, your toddler should be able to hold the brush while you their hand and guide it in all the right brushing angles and motions.

Stand in front of the bathroom mirror so you can both see into their mouth. You can try cupping their chin for better stability. In effect, you are being a puppeteer and controlling their movements while they get to hold the toothbrush. Angle bristles appropriately to remove plaque from the front, back and between the teeth. To remove plaque build-up from the gum line, angle bristles towards this area and brush in an expanding circular motion to incrementally “shave” off plaque. Make sure you ease the toothbrush off a little when it comes in contact with gum tissue, so as not to cause irritation. Let them hold the tongue cleaner while you guide their hand movements and start teaching them to spit.

New dental technology can benefit toddlers once they’ve got the hang of manual brushing. Infant electric toothbrushes with timers are very effective cleaning tools but a toddler has to unlearn their manual brushing technique to use them. Electric toothbrush are held in a stationary position and moved across each tooth – tooth by tooth. Always store their toothbrush away from other brushes and allow to air dry. Cross bacterial contamination with older family member’s toothbrushes can introduce new bacterial species into your child’s oral cavity. Replace brush or brush heads every 3-4 months.

The best ways to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

The best ways to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

Probiotic Oral Bacteria

Probiotic Oral Bacteria

The best ways to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

Nurturing and enhancing the probiotic bacterial activity in your oral cavity is done similarly as for your gut

When eating high-fibre vegetables, you can nourish your good oral bacteria along with your friendly gut bacteria, further down the track. However, there are slight differences between the needs of your probiotic oral bacteria compared to those of your gut bacteria. Additionally, your oral cavity is a unique microbial environment that is physiologically different from your gut. Improving its blood vessels & nerves, salivary glands, chemical signalling function to the brain and cellular efficiency can enhance oral probiotic flora and lower levels of oral pathogens.

The oral and gut microbiota work together to keep us healthy

Even though the oral and gut microbiotas appear to be separate entities, they work synergistically to nourish our body and protect it from infection and disease. So it’s important to keep in mind that you can’t effectively improve one microbiota without improving the other as well. For example, you might take a daily gut probiotic supplement – but what about the billions of oral pathogens you swallow every day that makes it through the stomach acid barrier and colonise the gut? So, what are the most beneficial ways to boost your probiotic oral bacteria?

Tips to improve your probiotic oral bacteria

You can nurture your probiotic oral bacteria, optimise your oral PH and improve your oral health with the following foods and oral care/lifestyle habits:

  • Eat, chew or drink (with pulp) nitrate-rich high fibre vegetables to maintain and improve the oral microbiome including celery, beetroot, rocket, chard, rhubarb, fennel and oak leaf lettuce.
  • Eat, chew or drink (with pulp) prebiotic high fibre foods that help feed probiotic oral bacteria, including nuts, fruits and seeds.
  • Chew more fibre to create an “oral garden mulch” to feed probiotic bacteria.
  • Use your toothbrush, flosser and tongue scraper to manually remove bacterial plaque – helps keep bacterial numbers between species balanced and in check.
  • Avoid excessive use of anti-microbial mouthwashes since they can harm the oral microbiome, taking out good and bad bacteria. Use mouthwashes with prebiotics that target specific bacteria.
  • Avoid alcohol. Binge drinking can completely disrupt the diversity of your oral microbiome and enable harmful bacteria to flourish.
  • Avoid smoking. It can disrupt saliva flow and dry out the oral cavity.

  • Oral bacteria

    Foods and drinks that stain your teeth

    Foods and drinks that stain your teeth

    Brushing your teeth twice daily and seeing your dentist for a professional clean are two of the best ways to maintain a bright, healthy smile. However, no matter how clean and free of plaque your teeth may be, there is one thing that can prevent your teeth from being the brightest they can be – and that is food and drinks that stain your teeth.

    How do foods and drinks stain your teeth?

    Foods and drinks that contain coloured compounds called chromogens, have the ability to stain your teeth. Another substance called tannin can increase the staining potential of chromogens, especially when both are present in the same drink or food. For example, black tea or coffee. If acids are also present, the staining or discolouration is further enhanced because acids weaken your tooth enamel, making your teeth easier to stain. The most common teeth-staining foods and drinks

    • Black tea and coffee
    • Red wine
    • Soft drinks and sports drinks
    • Dark coloured fruit juices and drinks
    • Dark coloured berries
    • Tomato-based pasta sauce
    • Beetroots
    • Curries containing tumeric
    • Soy sauce
    • Balsamic vinegar
    • Coloured candy

    Should all I avoid consuming all foods and drinks that stain or discolour my teeth? Certainly not. If a food or drink is naturally dark in colour, especially purple and red, they probably contain high levels of antioxidants which provide numerous health benefits. Just eat them in moderation and rinse your mouth with water afterwards to avoid their staining effect. On the other hand, food or drinks that are sweetened and artificially coloured are best avoided altogether since they also contribute to tooth decay.

    What can I do to avoid tooth stains and discolouration?

    • Consume foods and drinks that stain or discolour teeth in moderation.
    • Rinse your mouth with water after consuming teeth-staining foods and drinks.
    • Balance off meals with foods high in fibre which can increase saliva and have a natural cleansing effect. For example, apples and celery.
    • Try using a straw when drinking teeth-staining beverages to bypass your teeth.
    • Chew Xylitol gum after eating for a saliva-boosting cleansing effect.
    • Brush and floss twice daily.
    • Attend regular checkups and cleans with your dentist.
    Tips for a healthy and beautiful smile

    Tips for a healthy and beautiful smile

    Studies have shown that maintaining healthy, natural and radiant teeth not only benefits your self confidence, but your social and professional interactions as well. If you have a good set of clean, bright teeth with no gaps, you are considered more healthy and attractive – on first impressions. However, a lot of people are under the false impression that to achieve pearly perfect whites, a quick teeth whitening treatment is all you need. While getting your teeth whitened is an invaluable and beneficial cosmetic dental treatment, there’s more to achieving healthy, beautiful teeth than getting them bleached. To keep your teeth in excellent condition, you also need to take care of them with healthy oral habits.

    You also need to follow a healthy lifestyle – specific to your age and life stage. Taking a holistic approach to your oral health is the best way to keep your smile going, and your teeth strong and healthy for a lifetime. Here are 10 tips for a healthy and beautiful smile for life:

    • Review and improve your brushing and flossing routine. A lot of adults have flawed brushing and flossing techniques which enable plaque and decay to develop in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Your dentist can help you identify the weak links in your home oral health care routine.
    • Avoid diet soft drinks (as well as sugary soft drinks). Both beverages are highly acidic and cause tooth erosion. Dark-coloured soft drinks can also stain teeth over time. When drinking soft drinks, try using a straw to prevent the soft drink from coming into contact with your teeth.
    • Stop smoking. Smokers heal slower than non-smokers after gum infections and oral surgery. Smokers are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease.
    • Relax. You may be tensing your jaw and clenching your teeth if you aren’t. This facial action leads to excessive wear on your teeth and possible chipping and cracking. If you grind your teeth while sleeping, a night mouthguard from your dentist can help prevent further damage. However, learning relaxation techniques is the best way to deal with the stresses of life.
    • Don’t over bleach your teeth. Over-bleaching may lead to damage to your tooth surfaces and increased sensitivity. Touch-ups are okay once or twice a year.
    • Eat a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet. By giving your body the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that it needs, you can help ensure healthy teeth, bones and gum tissue in your oral cavity. Over-50s need to ensure that their Vitamin D and calcium intake is adequate to prevent bone loss.
    • Get your dental work checked. Fillings, crowns, inlays, onlays, veneers and bridges can wear out over time. If they crack or chip, oral bacteria can infiltrate the spaces, penetrate the inner tooth, and cause decay. Attending regular dental check-up and cleans can ensure that any worn out or damaged dental work is identified early and repaired.
    • Drink more water. Keeping your mouth well hydrated prevents it from drying out. A dry mouth condition increases the risk of plaque and tooth decay/erosion. One in four Australians is affected by a dry mouth. If you have a dry mouth condition, try using a mouth wash specially formulated to manage dry mouth symptoms.
    • 40 year milestone. When you reach 40 get a proper check up for any early signs of a potentially serious health condition. Certain oral health conditions, such as gum disease, may be linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
    • Pregnant mothers, be aware. Pregnant women with elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone may be more susceptible to minor gum infections during pregnancy.