Of the thousands of bacteria living in your mouth at any given time, some are helpful, and others can be harmful. One type of bacteria known to inhabit the human mouth is Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (AA). Its full name is a mouthful, and it's a known "tooth killer." Here's how these bacteria develop and affect our mouths, and what you can do to keep them under control
What Is Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans?
AA is a species of rod-shaped bacteria with several virulent factors, meaning that the bacteria have characteristics that can harm your dental health, as an article in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research (JCDR) describes. In a healthy mouth, the balance of different bacteria keeps AA in check. However, when AA is given the opportunity to grow, there is a higher risk of developing gum disease. Specifically, these bacteria have the ability to invade and destroy the gum tissues and suppress the immune system.
Relationship Between AA and Localized Juvenile Periodontitis
The JCDR article describes how AA is particularly associated with periodontitis (gum disease) in young individuals, known more specifically as Localized Juvenile Periodontitis (LJP). It occurs in 90% of aggressive cases of LJP and in 30% to 50% of severe periodontitis cases in adults. If this disease is left untreated in a younger patient, it can lead to destruction of the tooth tissues, hence why AA is known as a tooth killer.
LJP is typically genetic or hereditary and mostly affects young adults between 25 and 30 years old. The condition involves the rapid destruction of gum tissues around incisors and first molars, as well as rapid bone loss around the affected teeth.
Early diagnosis in any form of periodontitis is critical to ensuring that the disease doesn't worsen. Be sure to visit your dentist twice a year so that they can detect any gum problems as early as possible.
The aim of your dentist's gum treatment is to eliminate these pathogenic bacteria and restore a normal balance of bacteria in your mouth. Treatment may include a number of deep cleaning methods, such as scaling and root planing, as the Mayo Clinic explains. Other options include tissue regeneration or gum grafts, depending on the severity of your condition. Your dental professional will assess you thoroughly to decide which option is best for you or may refer you to a gum specialist known as a periodontologist.
Oral Care Tips for Minimizing Mouth Bacteria
It's important to take meticulous care of your teeth and gums at home to minimize any bad bacteria that could harm your mouth. As the Mayo Clinic outlines, steps to improve your oral care include:
- Brushing at least twice a day or after every meal and snack.
- Using a soft-bristled or an electric toothbrush.
- Using aids to clean between your teeth, such as floss or interdental brushes.
- Trying an antiseptic mouthwash to eliminate bacteria that live between the teeth.
- Stopping smoking or tobacco use, as this increases your risk of developing gum disease.
Gum disease is preventable. By controlling the bacteria in your mouth with great oral hygiene, you can keep your smile healthy and your teeth disease-free.