What Students in Dental Hygienist Training Should Know About Oral Microbiology

become a dental hygienist

The biology behind our mouths is pretty complex. Generally speaking, oral microbiology is the study of how oral microorganisms—largely those of the oral cavity—interact with their human host. Essentially, the growth of these microorganisms is linked to the state of our own oral health and physiology.

While the oral microbiome is vast and complex in nature, it’s important to know the role it plays for our oral health. Here are some things about oral microbiology that dental hygiene students should know.

Our Mouths Host the Body’s Second-Most Diverse Microbial Community

The oral microbial community’s makeup is so diverse that the human mouth is home to more than 700 different species of bacteria located between the oral mucosa’s soft tissues and our teeth. A great many of these bacteria are connected to dental plaque. However, just 34 to 72 kinds are typically found in individual humans, and some are probiotics that are beneficial to one’s health. In any case, the mouth is an incredibly colonized part of the body, and one’s oral health has a significant impact on one’s general health. The various microorganisms in the body make up a complex community, and those wanting to become a dental hygienist should know that the bacteria found within it can also be responsible for tooth decay.

Many of the 700 species of bacteria found in the oral cavity are related to plaque
Many of the 700 species of bacteria found in the oral cavity are related to plaque

Important to Remember is the Relationship Between the Host and the Microbiome

What’s particularly worth keeping in mind with regards to oral microbiology is exactly how host-microbiome symbiosis plays out. Humans aren’t simply autonomous organisms; rather, they are a combination of various microbes (as well as their genomes), which form a “superorganism”. Our microbiome is essentially what represents the community of microorganisms existing within us, and those microbiotic residents and the hosts are separate from one another. Some advantages this symbiosis between the two has are its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, its ability to regulate one’s cardiovascular system, and the maintenance of the digestive tract. The body’s various microbial communities can also contribute to functions like food digestion, metabolic regulation, and immune system regulation.

Want to Become a Dental Hygienist? Understand What Dysbiosis Means

The opposite of symbiosis, dysbiosis is essentially where bacteria can manifest and upset the oral ecosystem’s equilibrium, resulting in oral diseases and conditions like periodontitis, cavities, and gingivitis. In particular, dysbiosis can be caused by factors including poor oral hygiene, smoking, diet, health conditions such as diabetes, and even genetic differences. While physiological changes such as puberty, pregnancy and age usually have little to no impact on oral health, they can also cause dysbiosis in some instances. Therefore, it’s important for anyone in dental hygienist training to understand the importance of maintaining optimal oral health and having an equilibrium with regards to one’s microbiome.

Dysbiosis can result in various oral diseases, among them being periodontitis
Dysbiosis can result in various oral diseases, among them being periodontitis

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