The Connection Between Bacteria and Oral Health
The word “bacteria” tends to have a negative connotation. It conjures thoughts of unhealthy germs, viruses, and other things that make us sick. Not all bacteria deserve such a bad rap though. In fact, a healthy presence of good bacteria, otherwise known as our microbiome, is crucial for our health.
Let’s take a closer look at good bacteria, the human microbiome, and what this all means for your oral health.
What is the human microbiome?
The term “human microbiome” is used to describe the various types of bacteria, including fungi and protozoa, that make up the microbe-rich environments that are our bodies.
From head to toe, inside and out, our bodies are home to tens of trillions of microorganisms. Many of these microbes are beneficial or have a symbiotic relationship with us. There are also potentially harmful microbes present, but when we are in a healthy state, with optimal levels of good bacteria and a strong immune system, they balance out.
Within our bodies are also subsections of microbiomes, such as our skin and respiratory system microbiomes. However, two subsections are particularly important as they directly impact one another, not to mention our mental and physical health. These are your gut and oral microbiomes.
Your gut microbiome is the foundation of your overall health because roughly 70% of your immune system is located in this area. The gut microbiome is the largest and most diverse in the body, but the oral microbiome is a close second. In your mouth alone, there are about 700 different species of bacteria present at any given time.
How do healthy microbiomes affect my body?
Healthy microbiomes positively impact your body in a number of ways, including: immune system
- Boosting your
- Preventing illness
- Lowering risks of systemic disease
- Improving nutrient absorption
- Preventing cavities and gum disease
- Improving mental well-being
- Maintaining a healthy weight
When you have balanced gut and oral microbiomes, you’re able to achieve an optimal level of health overall. There truly is no replacement for healthy gut and oral bacteria.
What are the signs of an unbalanced microbiome?
You may have an unbalanced microbiome if you:
- Catch frequent colds
- Have chronic digestion issues
- Have gum disease
- Develop frequent cavities
- Feel a lack of focus and concentration
- Experience stress, anxiety, or depression
- Struggle with weight loss or gain
- Feel sluggish and run-down
- Have frequent acne breakouts
There are many factors that can impact your health and plenty of physical and mental health conditions that aren’t necessarily caused by an unbalanced microbiome. That’s why it’s important to work together with your doctor and dentist to confirm your root issue.
What can I do to improve and maintain a healthy microbiome?
If you have a feeling that your overall microbiome isn’t the healthiest, there’s good news! Bacteria and other microbes are surprisingly resilient, and even if you haven’t been living the healthiest lifestyle, small changes can immediately start boosting good bacteria and reducing bad bacteria throughout your body.
Here are a few things you can do right away:
- Increase your consumption of whole, fresh foods.
- Take a prebiotic and probiotic supplement.
- Eat foods with natural probiotics (e.g., yogurt).
- Be cautious of antibiotic overuse.
- Spend time outdoors.
- Exercise regularly.
- Take a multivitamin.
- Reduce stress.
- Get eight or more hours of sleep nightly.
Your doctor or holistic nutritionist is a valuable resource in rebuilding your microbiome safely and effectively.
Dental care is an important step in protecting your oral microbiome.
Dental care is such an important part of improving your oral and overall microbiome that it deserves special mention. In addition to the tips above, here are a few other things to do that directly impact your oral microbiome:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
- Floss thoroughly at least once a day.
- Visit your dentist every six months.
- Have your teeth cleaned every six months.
- Take swift action when you notice a problem.
- Stay hydrated to help ensure healthy saliva flow.
- Limit consumption of sugary and acidic foods.
Ada Smile Place will help you achieve optimal oral health.
An important resource for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome is a dental practice that can help you achieve and preserve optimal oral health. The Ada Smile Place team is passionate about helping patients improve not only their oral health but their overall health as well.
Our dentists will talk to you about your oral-systemic health connection, discuss your oral and related physical concerns, and create a unique treatment plan to help you meet your goals. Whether you are looking to maintain a healthy smile, restore damage from decay or gum disease, or get a new smile through restorative and cosmetic care, Ada Smile Place covers all the bases.
You can learn more or schedule an appointment by calling our Ada, Oklahoma, office or using our convenient online form.