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This Is What Lives Inside Your Mouth


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

1195 This Is What Lives Inside Your Mouth
Hey there, little critters! Bacteria come in all shapes and forms. Steve Gschmeissner/SPL

Steve Gschmeissner is an unusual photographer. Most take incredible shots of the very big, from incredible wildlife to epic volcanic eruptions, and even panoramas of other worlds. This particular British documentarian, however, is an expert in electron microscopy, a technique that allows anyone who wields it to take images of the very, very small.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is a good idea, but not all bacteria are bad for you. Steve Gschmeissner/SPL


He has decided to turn a scanning electron microscope on himself, using it to showcase the ecosystems of bacteria that live within his own mouth. The images here are falsely colored, and have been magnified up to 10,000 times. All the bacteria pictured can be found on your teeth, tongue, cheeks and saliva glands.

On average, there are an estimated 100 to 200 different species of bacteria quite happily residing in our dental repositories, many of which are anything but harmful – several of them actually help in the digestion of our food.

Our mouths are essentially comfortable, resource-rich forests for these little critters. Steve Gschmeissner/SPL

There are 700 different strains of bacteria that we know of that can thrive in our mouths, and only a few, including Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis, cause problems. These two nasty fellows cause tooth decay and serious gum disease, respectively.


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  • tag
  • bacteria,

  • health,

  • mouth,

  • hygiene,

  • electron microscopy,

  • zoomed in,

  • oral ecosystem