We encounter germs in our everyday life every day without us noticing it. Only when we become ill do we feel the effects of the various pathogens. Besides bacteria and viruses, the germs include fungi, parasites and algae.

Most types of germs can be divided into subgroups. Often one group of a germ is part of the natural flora of our skin and mucous membranes (e.g. in the nose, mouth or intestines), while another group has pathogenic properties. Microorganisms that live in and from the human body but do not harm it are called commensals. In contrast to the commensals, parasites always do harm to the body, so they are pathogenic germs.

Germs in the mouth

Under normal circumstances, the mucous membrane in the mouth is colonized by many different germs. The most common bacteria are found there. Among these, streptococci and staphylococci stand out in quantity.

Cocci are roundish formations that form heaps, chains or pairs and are therefore easy to identify under the microscope. Staphylococci are normal skin germs, but can also be involved in wound infections, depending on which subgroup of the germ is predominant. Streptococci can also be subdivided into several subspecies, and are then responsible for infectious diseases such as scarlet fever and angina (Streptococcus pyogenes) or pneumoniae (Streptococcus pneumoniae, formerly known as “pneumococcus”).

Actinomycetes, rod-shaped germs, which can live without atmospheric oxygen, also occur in the mouth and can contribute to the development of caries. Germs that cause caries are called cariogenic. Caries is caused by streptococci or actinomycetes, whereby streptococci in the form of the pathogen Streptococcus mutans are most common.

Furthermore, the mouth is an entry point for various germs. Germs enter the digestive tract through contaminated food and tiny droplets in the air can penetrate into the respiratory tract. Even at the heart, an inflammation of the inner skin of the heart (endocarditis) can be caused by oral (in the mouth) pathogens.

Untreated, such endocarditis leads to death. Germs in the mouth consequently lead to diseases of the entire body. Dental and oral hygiene and regular check-ups at the dentist should therefore not be neglected.