October 6, 2021
The human body is a complex network of systems, all of which depend on each other to function optimally. The mouth is particularly important because it is one of the primary “gatekeepers” of your body, controlling much of what is allowed to affect your other systems. In this blog post, a holistic dentist in Southlake, Dr. Preetha Thomas, dives into some basic details of how your mouth can affect your gut health and vice versa.
The Importance of Microbiomes
A “microbiome” is composed of all the microscopic organisms in a particular environment. The oral microbiome and the gut biome are separate but connected collections of bacteria that influence health. Don’t let the word “bacteria” alarm you. Although it is usually used in a negative context, there are actually many species of good bacteria that play an essential role in promoting the health of the human body.
How the Oral Microbiome Affects Your Gut
An overabundance of bad bacteria in the mouth has the potential to exacerbate certain digestive health problems. For example, researchers have found that individuals with irritable bowel syndrome often have high levels of oral bacteria in their digestive tract. The bacteria from the mouth can pass into the intestines, contributing to inflammation and digestive problems. This may be especially likely to happen in individuals with severe gum disease, who have an imbalance in their oral microbiome due to an abundance of disease-causing bacteria.
How Your Gut Health Affects Your Oral Health
It’s important to keep in mind that the word “gut” often refers to the digestive system as a whole — and that starts in the mouth. Imbalances in the types of bacteria throughout your digestive system may adversely affect your oral health, contributing to things such as gum disease and tooth decay. Other problems in the gut, such as acid reflux, may also adversely affect your teeth by exposing them to dangerous acid that can wear away enamel.
What Should You Do?
Here are a few things you can do to protect your oral and gut health:
- Reduce sugar intake. It’s best to limit your intake of sugar and other simple carbs because they can reduce the diversity of micro-organisms in your mouth.
- Consume probiotic-rich foods. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt are great for your gut. (Some of these foods are acidic and might adversely affect tooth enamel, so moderation is important.)
- Be careful with mouthwash. Antibacterial mouthwash kills both good and bad bacteria. It’s best to use it only if your dentist in Southlake specifically recommends it.
Your body is a complex creation whose systems are all intimately connected. Caring well for your mouth can promote your whole-body wellness!
Meet Dr. Thomas
Dr. Preetha Thomas is an experienced, highly accomplished dentist who cares deeply for her patients’ oral and overall health. If you have questions about how you can effectively care for your teeth, gums, and oral microbiome, she would be happy to speak with you. Contact our office at 817-912-1218.
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