A common theme in dentistry today, and across all health care, is the strong link between how each system of the body affects the other. All of your internal systems interact and can affect each other to varying degrees. Since your mouth is the primary entryway for bacteria to get into the rest of your body, the health of your mouth has been linked to various concerns. In the same sense, issues happening within your body (specifically the digestive system in this case) can create problems and diseases in the mouth.
How Your Gut Health Impacts Your Oral Health
If your gut microbiome is unbalanced with too much bad bacteria, it can negatively impact your oral health. If you have too few good bacteria or too many harmful ones, this imbalance sends an inflammatory signal to your immune system, causing various symptoms to occur throughout the body – including the mouth. In fact, we can monitor dental health by examining gut health.
Here are some conditions caused by poor gut health:
This inflammation of the gums occurs when a film of bacteria accumulates on the teeth. Also known as plaque, it is a type of periodontal disease. When left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more severe condition that can lead to tooth loss.
This problem occurs when the gut leaks and allows undigested material and toxins to move freely through the body. With this weakening of the immune system, your mouth is less capable of fighting off the invaders that cause tooth decay. A key component of tooth decay is toxicity that can even enter the bloodstream.
Tooth Decay in Children
Cavities are the most common oral concern in children. Once tooth decay sets in, there is no reversing it. When tooth decay progresses as the child grows older, it can also lead to other oral issues like thrush and halitosis.
How Your Oral Health Impacts Your Gut Health
Gum disease leads to the increased presence of harmful oral bacteria in the mouth. When these harmful bacteria build up, they are then ingested and travel to the stomach as you eat, drink and swallow saliva. When they reach your stomach, bad bacteria can cause inflammation to develop.
Harmful oral bacteria weakens your good bacteria’s resistance to disease-causing bacteria that originate from the mouth. This weakens the stomach’s ability to fight off infection. In response, your immune system is triggered to attack the harmful bacteria and the inflammation further weakens your stomach and gut.
The key takeaway here is that you need to take good care of your gut health to ensure that your oral health, and many other areas of the body, are able to function well. One of the best ways to support your gut health is to reduce the harmful bacteria entering your gut via your mouth. Practice good oral care habits such as regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups. You can support gut health by eating a variety of plants and ensuring you get enough fibre in your diet. Also, daily probiotics and natural sources of bacteria in kefir or fermented foods can be very helpful to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria. For more information on balancing your gut and oral health, chat with your dentist at your next visit. Dr. Rose is very passionate and well educated on this topic and will work with you to improve your overall health through quality dental care.