Dirty. Germy. Riddled with bacteria.
You may have heard the online rumors that beards are full of germs, but it turns out that’s all they are – rumors. Actual research that has been done on beards not only disproves that theory, but finds that beards may improve cleanliness.
In this post, we’re going to cover the misconceptions and the truth, as well as some specific things that men with beards should do to maintain their oral health.
Don’t Believe the Rumors Giving Beards a Bad Rap
The “beard bacteria trap” story started a few years ago with someone referencing a study that supposedly found those results. Countless news outlets picked up the tale and ran with it, causing the idea to spread.
The only problem: it wasn’t real. There was no study, and the news outlets were merely spreading false information. Fake news, indeed.
What’s the truth?
Bearded men may actually have less facial bacteria than beardless ones. At least, that’s what the authors of one study found.
In this study, over 400 men were scrutinized. Both clean-shaven men and men with facial hair were swabbed for germs on their faces. Researchers were surprised to find that the men with clean-shaven faces had higher numbers of germs. They were three times more likely to carry MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staph aureus, on their faces.
Why? Researchers hypothesize that the clean-shaven men had more micro-abrasions from shaving. These tiny abrasions may possibly harbor more bacteria than beards.
Additionally, a London microbiologist studied bacteria extracted from beards and found that some microbes were present that killed other bacteria. He is conducting more research on bacteria from beards to extract anti-adhesion molecules. These molecules could someday be added to oral health care products like mouthwash or toothpaste to help protect tooth enamel from harmful bacteria.
Which is a nice segue into…
How Your Beard Affects Your Oral Health
Short version? For the most part, it doesn’t.
What really impacts the health of your teeth and mouth is your dental hygiene routine. Beard or no beard, you still need to:
- Brush your teeth twice per day. Do this for at least two minutes, cleaning every surface.
- Floss your teeth at least once per day. Flossing at the same time of day prevents plaque from getting under your gumline and causing problems with your teeth – or even your heart.
- Use sugar free gum or dental picks between meals to clean your teeth. These helpers are great for times that you aren’t able to brush. They remove food particles from your teeth and help keep your gums healthy.
- Visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least two times per year. These regular checkups are your best line of defense against oral health problems.
So, is there any way that your beard can impact your oral health?
Sure. It has the potential to do this in two ways:
- It hides your face.
- If it does have a lot of germs and bacteria, they could potentially enter your mouth.
Let’s look at each of those.
Why does hiding your face matter? Because if you develop oral health issues on your jaw or chin, the beard can make them harder to see.
To combat this issue, every morning you should take a few moments to conduct a visual and manual inspection of your jaw and chin. If you notice any discoloration, changes in appearance, or other unexplained changes, it’s time to consult your dentist.
Other signs of problems are numbness, lumps, or pain. Don’t hesitate to visit your dentist or doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
If you are suddenly unable to open your mouth as wide as usual, that can be another sign of a problem. Swelling in your mouth can be a sign of oral cancer, and it must be checked out by a dentist or doctor as soon as possible.
How do you keep germs and bacteria out of your beard? Practice good hygiene.
Rinse your beard every day with clean water. You can also use a beard wash to nourish your skin and keep your beard hair healthy. This cleansing process will remove most germs. You should also comb it to remove any stray food particles.
Additionally, you can keep your beard healthy by trimming it on a regular basis.
Still Have Beard Questions? Ask Your Dentist
Your dentist knows the signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited, make an appointment today. Your dentist will make sure that your teeth and gums are clean and help you head off any potential problems.
The basic thing you need to remember is that a beard is like any other part of your body – keep it clean and take care of it and you have little to worry about.