How to Treat Bacteria In the Mouth and Prevent Periodontal Disease

Did you know that your mouth is home to hundreds of microscopic germs? Whilst you can’t see or taste them, there are about 700 species of bacteria and fungus (1) on your gums, teeth, tongue, and cheeks. Some of these tiny bacteria are harmless, some are even helpful but others can cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease if you don’t consistently maintain great oral hygiene.

If you’ve noticed signs and symptoms that suggest you have an excess of bad bacteria in the mouth, you might be wondering how you can get rid of the bacteria from your mouth at home.

This post is here to help.

We start by explaining the signs and symptoms that you have an unhealthy accumulation of bad bacteria in your mouth. Then we’ll explain how it can be treated at home.

If the bacteria has already caused gum disease we’ll tell you what to do to treat the effects of the pesky microbes before they do any more damage.

bacteria in mouth treatment

Signs and Symptoms that there are Bad Bacteria in your Mouth

Bacteria in the mouth are one of the body’s worst invaders. They’re responsible for widespread tooth decay and gum disease around the world. 

According to the CDC, more than 1 in 4 (26%) adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay (2), and nearly half (46%) of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gingivitis (mild gum disease). 9% of adults have periodontitis (severe gum disease) (3).

Periodontitis, if left untreated, can lead to the destruction of the jawbone. In advanced cases, it can cause tooth loss. 

These bad bacteria also cause halitosis (that’s a technical word for bad breath), dry mouth, and bleeding gums.  There is also a link between oral bacteria, inflammation, and disease processes elsewhere in the body (4)

How To Get Rid of Bacteria in the Mouth? 

If you want to ensure you keep bacteria in check and prevent their nasty effects there are several things you can do at home.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

The best way to have excellent oral health and prevent a build-up of harmful bacteria and their effects is to have excellent dental hygiene.

Why Have Good Oral Hygiene

Left to their own devices, the bacteria buildup and form a sticky colorless film called plaque, which is already fully re-established by 4-12 hours after brushing. This plaque coats the teeth and gumline.

If we don’t remove the plaque, the bacteria produce acid that destroys the teeth – creating cavities. Our immune system tries to rid our mouth of bacteria, and an immune response is initiated, but in error, the inflammatory response causes gum inflammation and destroys the jawbone. 

Developing a Good Oral Hygiene Routine at Home

When you have poor oral hygiene, the plaque isn’t removed from the teeth. The plaque can cause gum disease to develop.  You can have excellent oral hygiene with these simple steps.

  • Brush your teeth

Brushing your teeth twice a day with an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste prevents the build-up of plaque and stimulates saliva production. Saliva helps to wash plaque away.  You may also find a Gum Pocket Brush helps cleanse the areas you can’t reach with a normal toothbrush and remove periodontal harming plaque.

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  • Use MouthWash

Mouthwash, also called mouth rinse can get in between teeth. It can reach areas that your toothbrush, removing plaque and debris.  Look for a therapeutic mouthwash that has active ingredients that kill bacteria and fluoride to help prevent or reduce tooth decay. Bear in mind, bacteria need to be mechanically removed with a brush and mouthwash is only an adjunct to this.

  • Start Flossing

Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth. You could also use a water flosser or interdental brushes.

  • Chew on Xylitol Gum

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in some foods and chewing gum. Plaque thrives on sugar (see below), but the bacteria streptococcus mutans can’t digest Xylitol. Without sugar to eat, the population decreases and reduces your tooth decay risk (5). Chewing also increases saliva production which washes plaque away.

  • Professional Cleaning

Regular trips to the hygienist remove plaque and hardened tartar that we can’t get rid of at home. The hygienist can clean below the gum line, which is difficult for us to do at home.

  • Clean Dentures and Mouth Guards

Dentures and mouth guards that are not cleaned correctly can accumulate bacteria. 

  • Brush your Tongue

The tongue harbors bacteria in microscopic furrows. To clean your tongue properly, brush the entire top surface of the tongue. Use a gentle circular motion for at least 30 seconds. You can also use a tongue scraper.

Drink water

Keeping hydrated with water is a simple way of flushing bacteria and toxins from your mouth. The water moistens the surfaces of the mouth making it harder for bacteria to stick to the gums and teeth. When the mouth is dry the bacteria find it easy to stick to the surfaces.

Take a probiotic

For some decades now, probiotics (a good sort of bacteria) have been added to various foods because they have beneficial effects on human health. The results from a limited number of studies suggest that they could be useful in preventing and treating oral infections, including dental caries, periodontal disease, and halitosis (6).

Eat Fibrous Food

Just like brushing your teeth, chewing on fibrous food such as raw fruits and vegetables can physically remove bacteria and plaque from the teeth.

Sugar-Free Diet

The harmful bacteria love sugar. Consuming lots of sugary food and drinks feeds the bacteria. They multiply and spread out around the mouth. The more sugar you eat the more fuel the bad bacteria have to grow.

Some of the bacteria convert the sugar in our diet into acid and plaque. The more sugar there is in your diet the more plaque and acid that will be produced. The risk of gum disease and tooth decay increases.

We can help you at home treat the bacteria in your mouth

Luckily, by maintaining good oral care and a healthy diet, you should be able to manage the bacteria in your mouth. This will prevent the bacteria from causing any serious issues such as gum disease and tooth loss. 

But if the bacteria has already created havoc and caused gum disease, we can help you at home.

Find out how our expert dentists can help get rid of the bacteria in your mouth with treatment at home.

Beat Gum Disease Now


  1. News in Health – Mouth Microbes
  2. CDC – Oral Health Surveillance Report
  3. Eke P, Thornton-Evans G, Wei L, Borgnakke W, Dye B, Genco R. Periodontitis in US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2014. JADA. 2018;149(7):576-586.
  4. Deo PN, Deshmukh R. Oral microbiome: Unveiling the fundamentals. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol. 2019;23(1):122-128. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_304_18
  5. Nayak PA, Nayak UA, Khandelwal V. The effect of xylitol on dental caries and oral flora. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 2014;6:89-94. Published 2014 Nov 10. doi:10.2147/CCIDE.S55761
  6. Bonifait L, Chandad F, Grenier D. Probiotics for oral health: myth or reality? J Can Dent Assoc. 2009 Oct;75(8):585-90. PMID: 19840501.

Gareth Edwards image

Written by Gareth Edwards

Co-Founder & GDG Dentist

Dr. Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS (RCPS Glasgow) is GDG Co-Founder and Gum Disease Expert.

He is a practicing dentist based in Bournemouth, UK and has treated thousands of patients with gum-related diseases.

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