Smile!: Dental Health and The Body
Last month, we got to take a look at how the gut microbiome affected a person's mental and general health. After some fascinating revelations, we got to better understand the role of bacteria in the gut and how it relates to other bodily functions.
Now we examine the role of dental health and how it affects the body. When examining dental health, one has to look at the oral microbiome. Yes, much like the gut has its own microbiome, the mouth has friendly (and non-friendly) organisms living and breathing in crevices between our teeth and many other hidden spots. Because the mouth is an entry point to other organ systems such as the digestive and the respiratory, oral microorganisms play a huge role
in the health of those organ systems.
One of the primary culprits of oral disease is inflammation of the gums also known as gingivitis, and when it advances peritonitis. Inflammation of the gums can lead to inflammation in other parts of the body leading to diseases such as diabetes, endocarditis and other cardiovascular complications. Harmful bacteria in the mouth can spread to the heart and lungs through the bloodstream causing havoc on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. On the other hand, chronic conditions like diabetes can in turn negatively impact oral health causing gum disease and cavities. Not only is the mouth an entry point for bacteria but it also serves in knowing more about one’s health status.
There are many ways to keep dental health at its optimal form. This can include proper dental hygiene, a healthy lifestyle filled with plenty of physical activity to keep blood flowing and inflammation at bay and little to no sugar consumption. Brushing teeth and flossing daily and using non alcoholic mouthwash are forms of good oral hygiene. Alcoholic mouthwash can kill the good bacteria in the mouth thus increasing likelihood of disease and complications. Saliva lubricates the moth and keeps oral hygiene by washing food particles down and neutralizing acidic bacteria. Drinking adequate amounts of water and getting exercise increases saliva production leading to a more beneficial oral microbiome.
Last but absolutely not least, stay away from sugar! Sugar is acidic and can rot away at teeth but it also serves as the energy source for harmful bacteria to thrive. With good dental hygiene habits, sugar’s impact on our mouths can be minimal however it is best to limit consumption. A healthy smile is a sign of a healthy life so let us do more to smile more and take the best care of our smiles.
Want to learn more about dental health?
Click on the integrative nutrition and lifestyle medicine link on DrKatJohnson.com website and ask to sign up for our dental health email series.
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Dr. Kat, Monica and Helen Derbew (article author)
Dr. Love’s Integrative Nutritionist & Lifestyle Medicine Consultants