Brushing and flossing may not be the most exciting part of your wellness regimen, but they are crucial for maintaining oral health to prevent cavities and reduce visits to the dentist. However, the impact of your oral hygiene extends beyond your teeth and mouth; it significantly influences your overall health and can provide insight into your body’s condition. Specifically, it is closely linked to gut health. Experts are increasingly recognizing the connection between oral health, dental hygiene, and various symptoms such as bloating, acid reflux, and weight gain. To understand the significance of oral health and its relationship with gut health, let’s explore how to maintain proper dental hygiene.

In this article
1 What is the oral microbiome?
2 How does oral health affect gut health?
3 Tips for optimal oral health

What is the oral microbiome?

The oral microbiome, much like the gut microbiome, refers to the collection of beneficial and harmful bacteria present in the mouth. The oral cavity houses a diverse microbiota, second only to the gut, which comprises over 700 bacterial species, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa. Various factors such as diet and breathing habits can influence the oral microbiome, as explained by Dr. Sara Larbi, DDS, Co-Owner of The Dentist Lounge.

Imbalances in the oral microbiome can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria, resulting in dental conditions like gum disease and cavities. This imbalance can trigger chronic inflammation and the release of harmful substances into the bloodstream, impacting distant areas such as the gut. An abundance of harmful bacteria in the oral microbiome can disrupt the gut’s balance and affect overall bodily functions.

How does oral health affect gut health?

Digestion’s initial stages occur in the mouth not just through the physical act of chewing but also due to the interaction between oral bacteria and the gut microbiome. This interaction underscores the importance of dental hygiene beyond cavity prevention. Dr. Derek Gatta, DDS, a co-founder of RiseWell, highlights that bacteria from the oral cavity travel to the gut each time we swallow. While most of these bacteria are harmless, some strains can lead to gut imbalances, inflammation, and systemic diseases. Research supports the notion that oral bacteria can migrate to the gut and alter its microbiota.

The mouth serves as a gateway to the gut, with individuals swallowing saliva and bacteria numerous times a day. When an excess of harmful bacteria overwhelms beneficial bacteria and enters the gut through swallowing, it introduces new bacterial species to the gut’s environment, influencing its microbial composition. Furthermore, the Oral-Gut Microbiome Axis establishes a bi-directional connection between the oral cavity and the gut, enabling them to communicate through chemical signals. This connection emphasizes that oral health maintenance not only benefits oral hygiene but also significantly impacts gut health.

Tips for optimal oral health

While focusing on improving gut health through diet and supplements is essential, neglecting a proper dental hygiene routine can undermine these efforts. Here are expert-approved practices to enhance both oral and gut health.

Brush with the right kind of toothpaste

It is vital to brush and floss correctly, starting with the toothpaste you use. Many commercial toothpaste brands contain fluoride, which in excessive amounts can lead to toxicity and adverse effects. Dr. Gatta recommends using fluoride-free hydroxyapatite toothpaste to strengthen and protect tooth enamel. Additionally, flossing after meals and opting for non-toxic toothpaste options align with the American Dental Association’s advice of brushing twice daily for at least two minutes each time.

Floss (yes, you do need to)

Flossing is crucial to remove food particles and plaque that regular brushing may miss. Plaque buildup between teeth and along the gum line increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, potentially leading to the ingestion of harmful bacteria into the gut. Consider using water flossers, recommended by some dentists for their plaque removal effectiveness and gentle action on gums.

Use an alcohol-free mouthwash

Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes that can dry out the mouth, destroy both good and bad bacteria, and erode tooth enamel. Opt for a non-toxic, alcohol-free mouth rinse to eliminate harmful bacteria without harming the oral microbiome.

Oil pull

Oil pulling, an ancient practice involving swishing oil in the mouth for several minutes daily, helps remove toxins and harmful bacteria. The process helps eliminate bacterial cell wall membranes and aids in whitening teeth.

Tongue scrape

Eliminate accumulated bacteria, toxins, and debris by using a tongue scraper to clean the tongue each morning. Tongue scraping not only improves oral hygiene but also helps prevent bad breath, enhances digestion, and reduces the risk of cavities.

Eat a diet rich in whole foods

A well-balanced diet rich in whole foods is essential for maintaining oral and gut health. Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains contribute to proper jaw development and nutrient intake. Minimize sugar consumption as it can lead to acid formation, tooth decay, and bacterial growth.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *