You’ve heard all about the oral microbiome and its importance for human health. However, did you know that your mouth (a.k.a. your “oral microbiome”) is actually gateway to total health?!
Good health starts inside your mouth, but for most people, that’s also where it ends. If your mouth isn’t healthy, the rest of your body doesn’t stand a chance. Fortunately, the answer is pretty easy: clean eating is an essential cornerstone of strong, lasting oral health.
Read on to discover more about the oral microbiome and 7 things your dentist never told you about improving BOTH your oral health AND your gut health…through your mouth bacteria.
The Oral Microbiome 101
The “oral microbiome” is the ecosystem of over 700 bacterial species that exists in your oral cavity, including your mouth, ears, nose, and throat.
Like the gut microbiome (and your skin microbiome, and your brain microbiome, and your vaginal microbiome), the oral microbiome influences the health of your body as a whole—from cavities (or cavity-free teeth), bleeding gums and the smell of your breath, to memory and brain function, blood sugar, bloating and constipation, your metabolism, inflammation, heart health and so much more.
How so? This is because your oral microbiome is the entry point that all nutrients and many toxins must answer to first before entering your entire body and your gut or digestive tract. Everything that you swallow, good and bad, travels through your digestive system and into your bloodstream. This means that the condition of your mouth directly influences overall health.
Simply put, when bad bacteria overtakes your mouth and destroys your oral biome, inflammation and infection pass through your digestive system to wreak havoc on the body. If the food you eat cultivates dangerous bacteria in your mouth, you become vulnerable to serious digestive issues like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, irritable bowel, and malabsorption syndrome.
7 Things Your Dentist Won’t Tell You About the Oral Microbiome
#1. A Healthy Gut Microbiome = A Healthy Oral Microbiome & Vice Versa
The gut-oral microbiome connection is a 2-way street. “Germs” and “bad bugs” only makeup about 3% of our bacteria. The other 97% are “good guys” that are often just imbalanced (dysbiosis) if we have gut or dental problems. Interestingly, researchers find that the gut bacteria in your mouth are the same as the gut bacteria in your small intestine, meaning, if you have “gut problems”, you probably have mouth problems, and vice versa. If you have these problems (imbalances), you probably have gut problems.
#2. The Reason Why “Sugar Causes Cavities” is Because it Feeds Candida & SIBO
Candida (yeast) and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) are a root cause of poor oral health; just like poor oral health can provoke these things. Candida and SIBO thrive off sugar, excess glucose and ketones (high amounts of grains, starch, processed foods, fruits, long term ketogenic diets). A balanced diet with 1-2 starchier carbs (like root veggies, cooked and cooled white rice), 1-2 fruits per day and minimal to no added sugar is the sweet spot for most microbiomes (no pun intended).
#3. Optimize Your Saliva & Chewing
Saliva is one of the most underrated substances in the body. Saliva neutralizes acids and maintain a safe, alkaline oral environment. In a healthy mouth, saliva performs this responsibility without opposition. However, an unhealthy gut microbiome AND disruptive eating habits give saliva an uphill battle. Drinking soda or juice, eating processed foods and refined carbs (even “health” foods like Quest Bars or Halo Top) suppresses digestive enzymes, coats the teeth, tongue, and gum tissue in sugar and chemicals, and creates overly acidic saliva.
Acidic saliva can’t efficiently dilute foods, excess bacteria and other harmful substances in the mouth, leaving your teeth and gums vulnerable to erosion and decay. Likewise, if you don’t chew your food, you don’t produce enzymes to break down food as efficiently, further disrupting the gut.
#4. Avoid Mercury (amalgam) Fillings & Root Canals (they are toxic)
One word: Poisoning. Mercury poisoning is a huge risk factor with fillings, leading to all sorts of systemic issues, including Alzheimer’s and brain “issues,” digestive disorders, hormone imbalances, high blood pressure, autoimmunity, weight loss resistance, toxic mold susceptibility, food sensitivities, leaky gut and fatigue. If you have amalgam fillings, have them removed by a holistic dentist who specializes in mercury filling replacement.
As for root canals, this procedures fosters unhealthy bacteria in root canals, which favor destruction of the nervous system and many other systems—hello inflammation and autoimmunity. Healthy cells have a code imprinted on them known as the Major Histo-compatibility Complex (MHC)—ie. “self.” Your body considers other code or alteration of this code to be “non-self.” The immune system is trained to kill and eliminate any “non-self” invaders.
#5. Bad Breath is Linked to Leaky Gut & Bad Liver Health
Did you know that not all bad breath comes from poor oral hygiene? It can actually come from gasses our to a leaky gut or poor liver health. Given this fact, to “fix” bad breath, turning to toxic mouthwash may not be the solution for improving bad breath.
Most mouthwashes contain toxic ingredients, related to inflammation, swelling, skin reactions, further mouth sores, digestive distress, allergies, metabolic issues and cell death like:
- Chlorine dioxide
- Cocamidopropyl betaine
- Poloxamer 407
#6. Plaque is Your Body’s Way of Trying to Tell You “Fix Your Gut”
Plague is technically a bacteria biofilm that contains a diverse range of bacteria. Biofilms often form when there is a state of dysbiosis (gut imbalance) or candida/bacterial overgrowth. Biofilm acts like the “steel army” of certain bacteria to cultivate plaque strong enough to resist antimicrobial agents that try to “break it up” so it can continue thriving and create tartar and eventually gum disease if it continues for too long.
Just like a plant needs water, sunlight, and rich soil to live, plaque requires carbohydrates, saliva, and bacteria to form. If you have plaque or tarter problem, look into your gut health.
#7. Diet is a Game-changer for Healthy Teeth
Weston A. Price’, the “father” of holistic dentistry, conducted a worldwide study to discover the root causes of dental decay, cavities and physical degeneration that he observed in his dental practice. He traveled the world over in order to study isolated human groups, including sequestered villages in Switzerland, Gaelic communities in the Outer Hebrides, Eskimos and Indians of North America, Melanesian and Polynesian South Sea Islanders, African tribes, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maori and the Indians of South America.
In conclusion, he discovered that dental caries and deformed dental arches resulting in crowded, crooked teeth and unattractive appearance are a sign of physical degeneration, resulting from nutritional deficiencies. Particularly, he found the foods used by isolated indigenous peoples with healthy teeth provided at least four times the calcium and other minerals, and at least TEN times the fat-soluble vitamins from animal foods such as butter, fish eggs, shellfish and organ meats.
Weston A. Price Eating Principles for a Healthy Gut
The “best” foods for oral health include:
- Whole, unprocessed foods.
- Beef, lamb, game, organ meats, poultry and eggs from pasture-fed animals.
- Wild fish (not farm-raised), fish eggs and shellfish from unpolluted waters.
- Full-fat milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as raw milk, whole yogurt, kefir, cultured butter, full-fat raw cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
- Saturated fats, such as lard, tallow, egg yolks, cream, butter/ghee, fatty meats, coconut liberally (help suppress inflammation)
- Traditional vegetable oils—extra virgin olive oil, expeller-expressed sesame oil, small amounts of expeller-expressed flax oil, and the tropical oils—coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.
- Cod liver oil (at least 10,000 IU vitamin A and 1,000 IU vitamin D per day)
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Use vegetables in salads and soups, or lightly steamed with butter.
- Only consume organic whole grains (gluten free oats, rice, quinoa), legumes and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors and other anti-nutrients.
- Enzyme-rich lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments
- Bone broth & homemade stocks from the bones of pastured poultry, beef, pork and lamb fed non-GMO feed, and from wild seafood. Use liberally in soups, stews, gravies and sauces.
- Filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Unrefined salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
- Homemade salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a small amount of expeller-expressed flax oil.
- Traditional sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, monk fruit (no erythryiol) and green stevia powder.
- Unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
- Use only natural, food-based supplements (ie. Liver capsules, colostrum powder, collagen peptides, elderberry syrup, herbal tinctures, quality probiotics)
- Do not eat commercially processed foods such as cookies, cakes, crackers, TV dinners, soft drinks, packaged sauce mixes, etc. Read labels!
- Avoid all refined sweeteners such as sugar, dextrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup and fruit juices.
- Avoid white flour, white flour products and white rice.
- Avoid all hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and oils.
- Avoid all industrial polyunsaturated vegetable oils made from soy, corn, safflower, canola or cottonseed.
- Avoid foods cooked or fried in polyunsaturated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Do not practice veganism. Animal products provide vital nutrients not found in plant foods.
- Avoid products containing protein powders as they usually contain carcinogens or damaged proteins formed during processing. Likewise, avoid lean meat, skinless poultry, reduced-fat milk and egg whites without the yolks. Consumption of protein without the cofactors occurring in animal fats can lead to deficiencies, especially of vitamin A.
- Avoid processed, pasteurized milk; do not consume ultrapasteurized milk products, lowfat milk, skim milk, powdered milk or imitation milk products.
- Avoid factory-farmed eggs, meats and fish.
- Avoid highly processed lunch meats and sausage.
- Avoid rancid and improperly prepared seeds, nuts and grains found in granolas, quick rise breads and extruded breakfast cereals, as they block mineral absorption and cause intestinal distress.
- Avoid canned, sprayed, waxed and irradiated fruits and vegetables. Avoid genetically modified foods (found in most soy, canola and corn products).
- Avoid artificial food additives, especially MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and aspartame, which are neurotoxins. Most soups, sauce and broth mixes and most commercial condiments contain MSG, even if not indicated on the label.
- Avoid caffeine and related substances in coffee, tea and chocolate.
- Avoid aluminum-containing foods such as commercial salt, baking powder and antacids. Do not use aluminum cookware or deodorants containing aluminum.
- Do not drink fluoridated water.
- Avoid synthetic vitamins and foods containing them.
- Avoid distilled liquors.
- Do not use a microwave oven.
What to do to improve the oral microbiome?
Non-toxic oral care couple with a nutrient-dense diet are the cornerstones of healthy oral microbiome. Check out Primal Life Organics Mouth Detox Kit to turn over a new leaf.