Sherry Belcher – Oral Microbiome

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Oral Microbiome – As you know, during the initial consult I had with you, I asked about your dental health. Not only because I was a dental hygienist at one time but because even 28 years ago, I knew the connection between your oral health and the health of the rest of the body. I have spent much time over the last couple of decades talking about gut bugs, good and bad, and the use of probiotics in achieving good health.

Since then, there has been a lot of research on bacteria and other microbes in the oral cavity, but also more research on many habits, diet, dental restorations, and medications used and how it affects your overall health. We share space with all these little critters, and what we want to achieve is harmony and congruence for everyone.

Oral Microbiome

The oral microbiome, which includes the mouth, sinus, and nasal cavity, has over 700 species of microbes. 700! It is directly related to the gut microbiome, which contains many hundreds of thousand bacteria. The gut and the mouth microbes play off each other. If there is a disruption, it affects both areas. If there is a strain of bacteria or fungi that are out of balance, it can wreak havoc on the whole body.

Your mouth and nose are your first line of defense against incoming microbes and an integral part of your immune system. pH changes in the mouth due to foods eaten, medications, stress, and oral products used can create an acidic environment which then can cause cavities and make you more vulnerable to gum disease.

Your mouth is exposed to many different microbes day to day. From a toothbrush, sharing food and drink,  oral sex, improperly washed silver and glassware, kissing pets, biting nails, licking fingers to turn a page, and on and on. If the current good bacteria balance is sturdy, there is no disruption. If not, then this can be the start of dysbiosis or imbalance.

Mouth breathing is a factor in the imbalance of bacteria in the mouth and gut. If the mouth gets too dry the pH drops thus making it more acidic which then can introduce other microbes that are not that healthy. These microbes can then multiply like crazy when the mouth is dry and spread into the ear canals, sinuses, and throat. A dry mouth can also increase the risk of cavities and bacteria forming around existing dental work.

Whenever you replace part of a natural tooth with any filling, crown, or bridge you always introduce microbes that can potentially cause problems.  Root canals are worthy of their own article since they are a major source of systemic bacteria and microbiome imbalance.

Other things we do in the name of good oral health may be problematic for good oral bacteria as well.

  • Mouthwash with alcohol not only lowers the pH to more acidic, it also decimates the bacteria lining the mucosa and tongue.
  • Toothpaste, hand sanitizers, hand soaps, and other ingredients with Triclosan.  This is an anti-bacterial chemical that kills off good bacteria, thus leaving you prone to other bad bacteria that is not sensitive to this ingredient
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is found in toothpastes and mouthwash. It irritates the mouth lining and changes the microbial amounts
  • Oral surgeries- tooth removal, root canals, gum surgeries, etc.
  • Dirty C-pap machines
  • Smoking
  • At-home teeth whitening products. In a dental office where the rest of the mouth is protected from whitener product is best.
  • Medications that cause dry mouth:

o   Anti-histamines

o   Allergy medications

o   Anti-depressants

o   Muscle relaxants

o   Decongestants

So what can we do to promote a healthy oral microbiome that not only helps our mouth, sinus, and ears but also our gut microbiome and our immune system?

  • Baking soda is alkaline, thus neutralizing substances that create acid. You can dry brush once a day with baking soda or find a toothpaste with it.
  • Drinking enough water to keep the oral mucosa hydrated
  • Xylitol in toothpaste, nasal rinses, and gum creates an environment where bad bacteria can’t adhere well to teeth, nasal passages, or gums. It reduces cavity-causing bacteria
  • If you are prone to cavities there are a few oral probiotic chewable tablets available. In my experience, they work quite well.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit. The little bits that are left until you brush again create a substrate for the growth of good bacteria
  • If you use proxy brushes or other inter-dental cleaners, make sure you dispose of them each time or add a drop of tea tree oil to clean.
  • Take steps necessary to stop mouth breathing during the day or night. There are a few techniques that can be used. Contact me [email protected] if want resources
  • Cut down on sugar, it feeds bad bacteria in every area of the body
  • Replace your toothbrush after 3 months or if had a dental infection,  dental work, a cold, or a sinus infection

Managing your oral health/microbiome is just as important as managing your gut health. As always I am here for any questions about this article, products, or your particular oral health issue.

Until next time, many healthy blessings.



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