As well as keeping our pearly whites in pristine conditions, there is another, often overlooked reason to take good care of your teeth, and it involves your gut. Admittedly, when you’re busy brushing and flossing, the mysterious workings of your gut is not high on the agenda, but it should be, and here’s why.
The Mouth-Gut Axis
When it comes to your gut, your mouth is pretty much the guard at the gate. Everything you put in is gut-bound, and that includes the thousands of bacteria every time you swallow. Oral microbiome, a fancy name for bacteria, turns into gut microbiome after making the journey down the digestive tract. Gut microbiome is essential for your overall health. So when gum disease strikes, all that inflammation-causing bacteria will make its insidious way into your gut and wreak havoc with your overall health.
Health Conditions that Begin in Your Mouth
The link between oral disease and other health conditions has been well documented. Cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have all been found to contain oral pathogens, and all can have oral symptoms.
Looking after your oral health quite simply halts other diseases in their track. Unhealthy and unbalanced gut microbiome can lead to degenerative diseases such as dementia. Healthy and balanced gut microbiome is essential for the well-being of your immune system, digestion, metabolism, and hormones.
You Are What You Eat
We are all familiar with the dangers sugar presents to our teeth, but not many are aware of how they impact the oral microbiome in the mouth. The good bacteria keeps the harmful bacteria that lead to gum disease and tooth decay under control. The mouth is the starting point of your digestive system, yet so many of us consume food that is not exactly oral microbiome-friendly. Sugar, processed foods, and juice can all lead to gum disease and subsequent gut health issues. Alternately, fruit, veggies, and fibre are good for your teeth and your gut.
Trust Your Gut Instinct
Good oral health is usually a sound indicator of good gut health, but gut health is also a good way of monitoring dental health. When your gut bacteria is out of balance, it can lead to inflammation and a condition called ‘leaky gut.’ As the name suggests, this is a leak in the intestinal lining, the symptoms of which can manifest themselves orally in conditions such as gingivitis and dental decay. The first signs of digestive imbalance can often be found in dental disease. Conditions such as a red or swollen tongue, flat red patches on the gums and inside of cheeks, white pus-filled lesions, and burning mouth syndrome can be indicative of more serious issues, so be vigilant.
Your Mouth Is the Canary in the Coal Mine
Gum disease is a common problem for everyone, but it can lead to bigger problems if not quickly nipped in the bud. Keep a close eye on your mouth and gum disease symptoms to prevent things from escalating. Swollen gums that bleed when you brush and bad breath are all tell-tale signs that the bad bacteria is on the rise. The important thing is to take the war to gum disease head-on and not wait until the bacteria causing it accumulates in the gut and leads to other issues.
Your mouth and gut microbes enjoy a unique and dynamic relationship. They are also mutually codependent. If you ignore the health of one, you ignore the health of both. So trust your gut, look after your teeth, and keep everything in working order for years to come.