How do microorganisms find their way into the mouth?
How do germs get into our mouths?
Where do germs in our bodies come from?
How do microorganisms get into the body?
Where do microorganisms in the body come from?
How are we exposed to germs?
Microorganisms are living organisms too small to be seen but present in the air, water and soil. There are billions of microorganisms on and in the human body. Some microorganisms contribute to health by promoting immunity or breaking down indigestible compounds in the digestive system. Others spread disease and are considered harmful.
Humans come into contact with microorganisms through the air we breathe, our food and water, eating utensils and other surfaces and through close contact with individuals infected with bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms.
When a person sneezes or coughs, microorganisms in the respiratory tract enter the air. Once the microorganisms are airborne, other people can breathe them through the nose and mouth into their lungs.
Tiny droplets of saliva released into the air when we breathe, sneeze, cough and talk contain many microorganisms. These can survive on surfaces like desks, tables and countertops for hours and then be picked up by others. Hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing and using clean tissues can help prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and other airborne microorganisms.
While our food and water contain many helpful microorganisms, such as yeast, we can also ingest unwanted microorganisms through food and water. Foods that have been contaminated by fecal matter; meat, eggs and milk from infected animals; undercooked foods (especially meats); raw food and food that has spoiled can contain dangerous bacteria, like salmonella and listeria. These microorganisms can cause illness and death.
Maintaining proper food temperatures (usually above 70 degrees Celsius for warm foods and below 4 degrees Celsius for cold foods) also prevents the growth of microorganisms.
Cooking pots, eating utensils and food preparation areas can also harbor microorganisms that are consumed when we eat food prepared with those tools. To reduce the presence of microorganisms in food preparation, it is important to keep all utensils and surfaces clean and maintain good hygiene (especially hand washing) among food preparation workers.
In addition to food preparation utensils and surfaces, any other object or surface may contain microorganisms. Microorganisms on our hands can be ingested when people touch their mouths, or they can be passed from hands to food. Everyday objects like toothbrushes and pencils can carry millions of bacteria.