Every time you swallow millions of microbes are transported from your mouth to your digestive tract. According to the human oral microbiome database (HOMD), the oral cavity presents approximately 700 species of microorganisms.
Epidemiological and experimental evidence supports that oral dysbiosis (an imbalance of bacteria in the oral cavity) is closely associated with systemic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease
Oral dysbiosis can induce production of PAMP signals, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), resulting in systemic stimulation of innate immune responses and inflammatory transcription factors, including nuclear factor κB. These systemic inflammation and immune responses are thought to be one of the primary mechanisms, underlining that the oral microbiome regulates pathogenesis in distal organs.
Here are the top 5 mistakes you might be making that are harming your oral microbiome:
1) Mouth breathing. Research shows that when you breathe through your mouth, you increase the chance of having a dry mouth, which can in turn allow the levels of certain pathogenic oral bacteria to take over. Try mouth taping at night when you sleep.
2) Eating a poor diet. The foods you eat have a direct impact on your oral microbiome and saliva. Eating a diet high in refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, inflammatory oils, and low in fibre is one of the worst things you can do for your oral microbiome. Certain nutrient deficiencies such as B12, iron, and vitamin D can also lead to worse oral health. We need efficient levels of vitamin D for calcium absorption. When vitamin D levels are low you only absorb 10-15% of the calcium in your diet. Without enough magnesium, calcium won’t be able to harden your teeth properly. Fat-soluble vitamins such as A, K1, K2, and vitamin E are crucial for strong teeth and good oral health.
3) Using alcohol based mouthwash. Think of alcohol based washes to the mouth like antibiotics to the gut. It destroys not only the bad, but the good beneficial bacteria that thrive there. In addition to that, alcohol can dissolve enamel which protects your teeth.
4) Using toxic oral health products. Ingredients such as triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, polyethylene, artificial sweeteners, propylene glycol, titanium dioxide, and fluoride should be avoided as they can cause imbalance in the oral cavity in addition to having potential carcinogenic impact on human health. I use this toothpaste in rotation with my homemade coconut oil toothpaste.
5) Using teflon-coated dental floss. Some dental flosses (e.g., Glide) are slippery because they are coated with Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE) during the manufacturing process. Teflon has been linked, among other things, to certain cancers and endocrine disruption. This is a great alternative.
In my podcast episode with Dr. Seb, a biological dentist, we discuss the benefits of oil pulling and tongue scraping in addition to the importance of removing mercury fillings.
Here are some helpful tips for optimizing your diet:
- Eat whole, nutrient-dense food with an abundance of colourful vegetables, high-quality protein, essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, and fermented foods (
- sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir)
- Increase green leafy vegetable intake (Swiss chard, spinach, kale)
- Eat a diverse selection of fibre (soluble and insoluble)
- Make sure you’re getting enough fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, and vitamin K2.
- Make sure you’re getting enough minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
- Optimize vitamin D levels. (at least 50 ng/mL)
- Practice stress management and include regular joyful movement
- Drink at least 1/2 your body weight in oz of filtered water daily
- Avoid artificial sweeteners