For as long as you can remember, your dental hygienist always reminds you to floss daily. Okay you say, and six months go by and you have flossed a handful of times during BBQ season or after eating popcorn. After 17 years as a dental hygienist, I have heard every excuse known to man. I don’t like to lecture people on the importance of flossing, however, I do like to educate them on the impacts that their gums have on their overall health.
Your mouth is home to over 700 different microbes, making up the oral microbiota. The microbes in your mouth are an important part of the natural ecosystem in the oral cavity. It’s not possible to see them, but they are there. The mouth is a complex environment because it’s made up of many structures where bacteria like harbor such as the teeth, tongue, and mucosal tissues that line the inside of your cheeks. The dark, moist and warm environment of the mouth promotes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply and organize themselves to produce a biofilm. Unless this biofilm is removed regularly, this film of bacteria builds up underneath the gum line. As the biofilm matures, it begins to destroy the supporting structures of your teeth called the periodontium which includes the gums, ligaments, and bone, resulting in advanced gum disease also referred to as periodontitis. More importantly, though, research now suggests that this bacterial biofilm is responsible for some chronic diseases.
Oral dysbiosis, Gum Disease, and the Gut
There is strong evidence emerging suggesting that there is a link between the oral microbiome and the health of the gut. Some oral bacteria are associated with gut dysbiosis which is the imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria.
People who have gum disease may swallow a lot of harmful bacteria every day. This bacteria is particularly resilient to adverse conditions because it can withstand stomach acidity and travel to the gut. Here, it can trigger the immune system and promote inflammation, both of which can alter the composition of the gut microbiome, resulting in dysbiosis (imbalance in good and bad bacteria).
Oral Health and Systemic Disease
The bacteria in your mouth can also affect you directly, without going through the gut. This happens when the harmful bacteria get into your bloodstream through blood vessels in the mouth, leading to low-grade inflammation throughout the body and several diseases.
Type II diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in North America and is linked to metabolic syndrome and obesity. One of its main characteristics is persistently high blood sugar levels. There is evidence to suggest that oral diseases are linked with diabetes type II. Equally, oral symptoms are a complication of this metabolic disease, such as tooth loss from periodontitis. Because Type II Diabetes causes poor wound healing, any mouth sores or inflammation in gum tissues can take a lot of time and personal effort with home care to heal. It is also important to keep in mind that inflammation in the body also affects blood glucose levels causing a vicious cycle.
Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of harmful bacteria from your mouth to other parts of your body through the bloodstream. When these bacteria reach the heart, they can attach themselves to any damaged area and cause inflammation. According to studies, this can result in illnesses such as endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. Other cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and stroke have also been linked to inflammation caused by oral bacteria.
Research has found that bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lungs to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with advanced periodontal disease.
Pre-Term, Low Birth Weight Babies
There are ongoing studies that show the possible link between periodontal disease and low weight, pre-term babies.
How Do We Treat Oral Dysbiosis?
Keeping your mouth clean is a great way to keep harmful bacteria at bay and it is quite simple.
A major cause of oral dysbiosis is poor mouth hygiene, but several other important factors also come into play:
-Poor oral hygiene
-Dry mouth, often caused by prescription medications
For lots of people, brushing their teeth at least twice per day, and daily flossing can be a chore, but when it comes to dental hygiene, it shouldn’t be underestimated.
You can also focus on your lifestyle, like giving up smoking and eating wholesome foods that are not high in refined sugars. Improving your diet will also benefit your gut microbiome. It’s a win-win! The mouth is a mirror to the rest of your body. Take care of your mouth, and it will take care of you.
Although daily oral hygiene and regular dental visits are key to maintaining a healthy mouth, there are a few supplements that can help too.
Vitamin C-1000 by Genestra. Research has shown that people with gingivitis and bleeding gums have lower levels of Vitamin C.
HMF Forte by Genestra. Probiotics have potential in the management of diseases such as periodontal diseases and dental caries.
B Complex SAP by NFH. Some mouth sores like cankers, cracked corners of the lips, and a burning tongue are related to insufficient levels of Vitamin B2, B6 and B12
Magnesium Glycinate by Pure Encapsulations. Magnesium plays a critical role in building strong teeth and bones. Magnesium also helps the body absorb calcium, which is critical to building strong teeth and tooth enamel. As an added benefit, taking magnesium before bed decreases teeth grinding and relaxes the muscles of your temporomandibular joints.
Allaker, Robert P, and Abish S Stephen. “Use of Probiotics and Oral Health.” Current oral health reports vol. 4,4 (2017): 309-318. doi:10.1007/s40496-017-0159-6
Deo, Priya Nimish, and Revati Deshmukh. “Oral microbiome: Unveiling the fundamentals.” Journal of oral and maxillofacial pathology : JOMFP vol. 23,1 (2019): 122-128. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_304_18
Najafipour, Hamid et al. “Association of oral health and cardiovascular disease risk factors “results from a community based study on 5900 adult subjects”.” ISRN cardiology vol. 2013 782126. 9 Jul. 2013, doi:10.1155/2013/782126
Kim, Jemin, and Salomon Amar. “Periodontal disease and systemic conditions: a bidirectional relationship.” Odontology vol. 94,1 (2006): 10-21. doi:10.1007/s10266-006-0060-6
Park, Shin-Young et al. “Improved oral hygiene care attenuates the cardiovascular risk of oral health disease: a population-based study from Korea.” European heart journal vol. 40,14 (2019): 1138-1145. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehy836
Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health, www.perio.org
Blog Written by: Kacia Mongeau
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