Your oral health is much more than a brilliant smile and fresh breath. Increasing evidence suggests that the health of your mouth, especially the microbes residing there, are significantly tied to your gut health. This relationship is a crucial aspect of our overall health and well-being.
The Microbiome Connection: Oral to Gut
The oral microbiome is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. When you chew and swallow, these microbes migrate from the oral cavity to the gut, influencing the gut microbiota's diversity and composition. The oral and gut microbiomes aren't isolated; rather, they're intricately connected along the gastrointestinal tract, constantly influencing each other.
The oral cavity serves as the entry point for the gastrointestinal tract, and so, it acts as a primary source for microbial population in the gut. The bacteria present in your mouth—both beneficial and harmful—can travel down to your gut. The harmful ones, if unchecked, can disrupt the balance of your gut flora, leading to gastrointestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and even metabolic disorders like obesity and type-2 diabetes.
Certain types of bacteria found in a healthy oral microbiome, play a role in keeping gut health optimal. They travel down the digestive tract and take residence in the gut, adding to its microbial diversity.
Periodontal diseases are often linked with gut health issues. Research shows that individuals with poor oral health have higher incidences of gastrointestinal cancers. Also, pathogens causing oral diseases can migrate to the gut, leading to a change in gut microbiota composition and triggering inflammation and gut diseases.
6 Natural Ways to Improve Your Oral Microbiome
Improving your oral health can provide a significant boost to your gut health. Here are six natural ways to ensure that your mouth remains a beneficial source for your gut flora:
Use Mouth Tape at Night: Mouth taping is a simple yet effective strategy to encourage nose breathing, which has been associated with better oral health. It also helps prevent dry mouth, a condition that can cause bad breath and increase the risk of cavities.
Stop Using Mouthwash: Mouthwash can kill all bacteria in your mouth, including the beneficial ones that keep your oral microbiota balanced. Consider natural alternatives, like tongue scraping, to maintain oral hygiene without disrupting your oral microbiome.
Take Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotics and prebiotics can help maintain the balance of both oral and gut microbiota. Including these in your diet ensures your oral biome also benefits from their effects.
Start Tongue Scraping and Water Flossing: Tongue scraping can remove bacterial build-up and food debris from the surface of your tongue, aiding in overall oral hygiene. A water flosser can also help clean between teeth and below the gumline, where traditional floss might not reach.
Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water aids in saliva production, essential for oral health. It also helps wash away food particles and bacteria, contributing to overall oral hygiene.
Avoid Refined Carbs and Sugar: Refined carbs and sugar can feed harmful bacteria in both your mouth and gut, potentially disrupting the balance of these critical biomes and leading to tooth decay and gut issues. Opt for a diet rich in fibre and low in refined sugars.
Understanding the connection between oral and gut health is a significant step towards holistic health care. It’s about more than just brushing and flossing—it’s about nurturing an entire microbial community. A healthy mouth paves the way for a healthy gut, and with that comes improved overall health.
If you want to stay up-to-date with the latest insights and tips to improve your health, sign up for my monthly newsletter! In it, I share not only gut health tips, but also a variety of ways you can live your best life, from dietary advice to wellness routines, and so much more.
You can sign up for the newsletter below. It's a simple, free way to keep wellness tips and health knowledge at your fingertips. Together, let's embark on a journey towards better health and happier lives.