Everyone everywhere is talking about gut health. There are several informational pamphlets in my doctor’s office about gut health, leaky gut, and probiotics. I happened upon a discussion on Clubhouse about the importance of gut health concerning thyroid health. Suffice it to say, gut bacteria and the microbiome are hot topics!
Research proves our gut health influences our digestion, immune system, and hormones. Not too long ago, we held little regard for the bacteria within our gut. Sure, as dental professionals we have been concerned about the bacteria within our mouths and their interaction with the foods we consume, but it turns out we are discovering how much relevance they have on our entire bodies. This community of microbes controls our blood sugar, regulates and manages cholesterol, affects hormone balance, influences the nervous system, affects brain health and so much more. With literally trillions of bacteria living in our digestive tract and that kind of influence on our overall health, these little critters are worthy of attention.
The dental profession has been aware of the impact of the digestive tract upon oral health for some time. When things are out of balance, a message is sent via the body’s inflammatory response causing inflammation within the oral cavity. In fact, gut dysbiosis, the imbalance of gut bacteria, causes inflammation in the intestinal lining. Commonly referred to as leaky gut, this microbial imbalance can lead to gingivitis. The gingiva reacts to the microbial imbalance, and if left untreated can lead to periodontitis.
In addition, as the undigested toxins move about your body, they wreak havoc on the immune system. This weakening contributes to an inability to fight dental caries. Here’s a shocker: Simple carbs (sugar) do not cause as much harm to our teeth as we’ve given them credit for. Rather it’s the damage they do in reducing the diversity of our oral microbiome that is the real problem.
Yes, brushing and flossing ARE important. But the gut is in constant communication with the rest of the body by sending signals to indicate its well-being. As we know, porphyromonas gingivalis disrupts the subgingival microbiota and creates dysbiosis. The result does more than creating periodontitis. Sustained dysregulation may affect gut microbiota leading to further breakdown of the periodontium and the gastrointestinal tract. Contrastively, a healthy oral microbiome is generally indicative of favorable overall health.
Recommendations we can make to our patients to help promote and support a healthy microbiome:
- Eat whole foods
- Eliminate processed foods
- Eliminate sugar, except for rare occasions-this includes juices
- Eat fibrous vegetables as these support beneficial bacteria
- Incorporate fermented and probiotic foods
The relationship between the oral and gum microbiome is dynamic. It is influenced by the host’s lifestyle. This includes factors such as diet, stress, and smoking, to name a few. To address gut health with our patients is not only recommended but necessary for the promotion of good health and disease prevention.
Her clinical and support team experiences are the inspiration for her writing and the motivation for coaching clients to success. She is a regular contributor to various publications within dentistry and beyond. In addition to feeding the homeless, starting a non-profit, and being involved in her church and other community organizations, she sings professionally and enjoys several creative outlets. She resides in Florida where she enjoys the company of her husband, three children, and four beautiful grandchildren.
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