Did you know — the gut microbiome is all the rage these days. But what’s often overlooked is that to build a healthy gut, you’ve got to start with your mouth.
Your mouth has a microbiome too. And it needs more attention than simply brushing your teeth twice a day.
If you’ve taken your oral microbiome for granted, you’re not alone.
Most people don’t even spend a moment thinking about it since so much of the health info is so gut-focused.
But you really should. Keep on reading to find out why you shouldn’t drop the ball on oral care if you plan to build a healthy gut.
Why Should You Care About Your Oral Microbiome?
If you’re planning on spending time, energy, and money to rectify your “Leaky Gut” situation, your mouth’s microbiome should be a part of your plan.
It’s the beginning of your digestive “tube”, as I like to say.
It’s also home to one of the most populated bacterial residences on/in your body that’s easy to overlook. (1)
You might think that whatever you’re doing for your gut will also help your mouth, but it’s worth the extra effort.
And if you’re in “Maintenance Mode” with your gut, then addressing your oral microbiome is a no-brainer.
The only people who tend to care about their oral flora are those with heart conditions who’ve been advised to take antibiotics before having dental work and those with dental problems.
Everyone else seems to take cavities (also more formally known as dental caries) for granted as just a “normal” thing everyone gets.
But that’s not always the case!
One way small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) can happen is due to low stomach acid that allows oral bugs to make their way down to the small intestine.
Stomach acid serves a number of purposes. And one role that doesn’t often get much attention is its role as a chemical barrier! It’s there to prevent bacteria, viruses, and parasites from entering your body through your mouth.
So if you’ve got low stomach acid and your oral microbiome is dysbiotic, it can be a recipe for trouble!
Oral Microbiome Disruptors
While it’s true that what messes up your gut microbiome will also mess up your oral flora, there’s a few that deserve special highlighting.
- Excessive alcohol use – While one glass of wine now and then won’t rock the boat, heavy drinking is definitely a risk factor (more than three alcoholic drinks per day). (2,3)
- Antiseptic mouthwashes (4)
- Acidic drinks (ie. sugary sodas, juices, commercial ice tea)
- Refined sugars in diet
One of the biggest hits comes from the use of antiseptic mouthwashes that are pushed by many dentists. They work in a similar fashion to antibiotics — killing off both the good and bad oral flora. (4)
That leaves room for opportunistic bacteria and yeast to take over your mouth microbiome.
And believe it or not — we have to throw H. pylori infections into this discussion!
To build a healthy gut means avoiding H. pylori. There appears to be some data and medical experts who believe that oral infections are possible even if you test negative for it in the stomach. However, one study showed that healthy oral flora may be able to control or even totally blocked an H. pylori infection. (5)
This is a big deal for people who want to avoid an infection from the get-go (or even a recurrence) of H. pylori.
Furthermore, there are links between the healthfulness of your oral microbiome and systemic diseases such as Coronary Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes. (6) Just more food for thought if your quest for good gut health is part of your plan for overall long-term wellness.
How To Build A Healthy Gut By Starting In Your Mouth
One thing I’ve learned about your body’s amazing microbiome is that strains of bacteria matter. I’ve previously discussed how even your skin’s microbiome varies based on location.
The oral microbiome isn’t all that different from the one in your gut!
On average, you have about 296 different types of bacteria in your mouth of nearly 600 different potential strains that have been found through DNA sequencing. (1) Scientists have successfully isolated “L. paracasei, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus… L. salivarius”, “B. bifidum, B. dentium, and B. longum” in saliva. (7)
And there’s been some interesting results treating dental issues with certain strains of probiotics. For example, bleeding gums improved in those with gingivitis using “L. reuteri and L. brevis.” (7)
That’s one reason that I personally use a number of probiotics and alternate them in order to optimize and diversify my oral and gut microbiomes.
And I also use certain powdered formulas that are not encapsulated as well such as Primadophilus Reuteri probiotic.
Products I Use (And Recommend) For Healthy Oral Microbiome
I’ve really upped my dental game since January 2017 because I got my first cavity. The process of getting it drilled was so stressful to me that I completely revamped my own regimen.
I had a long-running battle with staining on my teeth and tartar buildup.
After shifting over to the following products, the staining completely stopped. I’ve not had any more cavities pop up (as confirmed through 6-month dental cleanings).
AND my teeth barely have any plaque on them at those dental appointments.
My conventional hygienist was incredibly skeptical at first and has now completely changed her tune after seeing such a major improvement in my dental health.
Here’s what I use:
- Redmond Earthpaste
- Ora Wellness HealThy Mouth Blend
- PerioBiotic Toothpaste from Designs For Health
- Desert Essences Mouthwashes
Here’s HOW I use them:
- Every morning, I use 2 drops of Ora Wellness HealThy Mouth Blend on the brush with my favorite non-fluorinated toothpaste.
- Four to five nights out of the week, I brush with PerioBiotic Toothpaste. I minimally rinse my mouth.
- On Sunday and Wednesday nights, I brush my teeth with a dry brush and Redmond Earthpaste. Once done and rinsed, I give a minute swish with my Desert Essences mouthwash and then swish minimally with water.
It may be worthwhile to also note that I brush twice per day, only occasionally floss (when I remember), and opt for a standard bristled toothbrush (not an electric one).
I should mention that I am not a dental expert by any means, but have found over the past 18 months that this has really worked for me. The results have been verified by my dental team (though my teeth do feel cleaner to me).
If you’re thinking of mixing up your own dental regimen to give your oral microbiome a helping hand, I hope this is a great start!
And if you’ve found success with any products that help you build a healthy gut by supporting and encouraging a healthy oral microbiome, share your experience here in the comments!
REFERENCES FOR HOW TO BUILD A HEALTHY GUT BY STARTING IN YOUR MOUTH
1. Kilian M, et al. The oral microbiome – an update for oral healthcare professionals. BDJ. Nov 18 2016;221:657–666.
2. Ducharme J. Heavy Drinking May Change the Bacteria In Your Mouth and Raise Gum Disease Risk. TIME. April 24, 2018.
3. Fan X, et al. Drinking alcohol is associated with variation in the human oral microbiome in a large study of American adults. Microbiome. 2018;6;59.
4. Burhenne M. The mouth-body connection: why we shouldn’t ignore the oral microbiome. Ask The Dentist. 2015.
5. Ishihara K, et al. Oral bacteria inhibit Helicobacter pylori growth. FEMS Microbiology Letters.1 July 1997;152,2:355–361.
6. Si J, Lee C, Ko G. Oral Microbiota: Microbial Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome Independent of Host Genetic Factors. Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. 15 December 2017.
7. Haukioja A. Probiotics and Oral Health. European Journal of Dentistry. 2010;4(3):348-355.