Today you are more aware than ever that your digestive health plays a massive role in overall health. The gut connects to your digestion, immune system, metabolism, and brain. But the easiest way to detect illness may be through your mouth. In simple words, your oral health can directly impact your gut health and vice versa.
Your mouth and gut have a very close bonding. Remember your oral health is directly linked to your gut health. Your oral health problems could be linked to poor digestive absorption and immune response.
Note that the first signs of digestive diseases might also occur in your mouth. Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel diseases, and ulcerative colitis might exhibit oral signs and symptoms. Continue reading to discover how oral health is connected to your gut health.
What is the Connection Between Your Mouth and Your Gut?
Research is beginning to show that your digestive system does not only function as a pipeline from your mouth. Instead, it functions as a physical interface with the outside world.
In other words, your gut does the job of conveying whatever you eat or drink. A strong, healthy gut will do an excellent job of protecting your overall health, while an unhealthy or weakened gut will not.
How does this work? You would be surprised to know that immunity starts in the gut with microflora, good bacteria, and other organisms that live in the intestines. Microflora, one part of our microbiome, helps your body digest food and make specific vitamins.
The term microbiome refers to all microorganisms. They all live together within a specific habitat, like your body, soil, or the ocean. In the body, this collection protects your entire immune system. These microorganisms serve as your first line of defense against illness, infection, and disease. The immune system activates only when your microbiome is not healthy and working as it should.
Dental Health Affects Your Gut Health?
Did you know that your oral health is connected directly to your gut and digestive health? According to a US National Library of Medicine study, oral bacteria may quickly transfer to the gut. Do you know that oral bacteria can spread through the body and be associated with several systemic diseases?
Your gut is no exception. Studies have indicated that oral bacteria can readily translocate to the gut and change its microbiota and possibly immune defense. It means good oral health is essential to prevent oral disease and maintain good general health. So, how do you keep your mouth and stomach healthy?
Your mouth is the gatekeeper of your gut
Think of the gut as a river, with the mouth being the source of that river. Meaning every time you swallow, you are actually swallowing thousands of bacteria. Some of which are bad but, most importantly, some are good.
Contrary to what you know, the goal is not to kill off all the germs in your mouth. Just like the gut microbiome, there are good bacteria in your mouth that help maintain your oral health and the rest of your body.
Probiotic strains of bacteria generally perform protective functions in the mouth. For instance, some strains release acids that keep the harm-causing bacteria under control. These bacteria often cause tooth decay.
Other strains protect against gum disease and bad breath. Unfortunately, we have been taught to abuse the delicate environment in our mouths. We often try to harm them with antibacterial mouthwashes that wipe out all the good bacteria that our microbiomes need to thrive.
Your mouth is the mirror of health and disease in the body
The gut microbiome actually determines how good your health is. But as your mouth is the opening to the intestinal tract, the oral microbiome plays a very significant role. The oral microbiome helps to keep your gut healthy.
The oral microbiome flows beyond your mouth and down the digestive tract to become the gut microbiome. And it is there, deep in our digestive system, that microbes are very important for the overall function of our body. Like gum disease, a problem in your mouth could cause the inflammation-causing bacteria to travel through your gut.
Studies show a close link between oral disease and systemic disease. Surprisingly, oral pathogens have been found in inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cardiovascular disease. It means when you look for oral care first, you are halting the disease from entering the track.
Simple carbs like sugar and flour will not cause as much damage to our teeth as most of you might think. Remember your body is in constant communication with the gut. Meaning it knows what is coming into it from the outside world. And while the gut is mainly affected, the story is written mainly in the mouth. Moreover, when your mouth and oral microbiome are healthy, diverse, and thriving, the rest of your body will thrive, too.
Healthy Foods Leads to a Better Digestive System
As you might be aware, certain foods can promote better oral and stomach health. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), your healthy eating habits and food choices can help prevent tooth decay to a large extent. But, what are these excellent foods to reach for? The following items are at the top of your mouth-healthy diet:
1 Leafy Green, Kale Leaves
Kale is a very healthy leafy vegetable, as it contains fiber, calcium, antioxidants, vitamins C and K, iron. It also includes a wide range of other nutrients that can help prevent various health problems. Antioxidants help your body remove unwanted toxins that result from natural processes.
2 Probiotic Yogurt
Many experts call yogurt a “must-have” for your mouth and gut health. Probiotic yogurt has a high content of calcium that helps build up tooth enamel. Yoghurt also contains healthy enzymes to aid in digestion; and eliminates harmful gut bacteria.
Mangos not only help with regular digestion but it also promotes healthy gums. This power fruit is high in fiber which helps treat gut inflammation and constipation.
Almonds are a good source of protein and calcium while low in sugar. Moreover, they are an excellent substitute for sugary candies.
Here are some tips to help you choose oral microbiome friendly foods:
- Remove and avoid processed foods. They are full of preservatives and artificial additives.
- Eat whole foods that have not been altered from their original state.
- Avoid sugar in all its forms: high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, table sugar, refined sugar, added sugar, honey, etc.
- Avoid the juices, even if they are 100 percent fruit. As they are a concentrated hit of simple carbs.
- Head to the farmers market and eat fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced foods.
- Always try to eat a variety of fiber-filled veggies. Some of your favorites should be brussels sprouts and leafy greens.
- Replenish your microbiome with fermented as well as probiotic foods.
- Choose veggies like onions and chicory root. They specifically contain prebiotic fiber, known to feed beneficial bacteria.
- And finally: chew, chew and chew your food. Your mouth is the beginning of the digestive system. Eating on the run can starve the beneficial bacteria of their role in kick-starting food processing.
The Role of Teeth in Digestion
Your digestion begins the second you put a piece of food into your mouth. That moment your salivary glands jump into action at the sheer sight of certain foods. Your saliva glands are critical because they help break down foods in your mouth.
The glands secrete enzymes that help to break down fats and starches. In addition, the saliva lubricates the passage of food down the esophagus to your stomach.
Your teeth also play a significant role in digestion. It is safe to say that it is hard to tear, grind, and cut food without teeth. This makes digestion more difficult. Experts argue that some of the nutrients remain locked in when you swallow slightly chewed food. This makes it more challenging to enter your body.
Tooth infection and misalignment can also affect chewing and digestion. Your misaligned teeth often put bite pressure on one area of the mouth over another. Finally, the strain on specific muscles can lead to pain when you chew your food. An example of this is temporomandibular joint disorders or TMJ.
So, what steps can you take to keep your teeth healthy and aid in digestion? Besides visiting your dentist regularly, here are a few important tips:
- Regularly eat a healthy diet rich in protein, calcium, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
- Limit sugary foods and beverages.
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Try using fluoride toothpaste.
- Speak to your dentist if you are suffering from a dry mouth.
Good Oral Health = Good Gut Health
Bacteria can travel between the mouth and the stomach. If you have an excessive amount of tooth cavities, it might indicate unhealthy gut flora.
Do you know that a strong immune system helps you to maintain a healthy mouth, and a healthy mouth strengthens your immunity? Since it works both ways, it is always important to strive for overall health. Especially while COVID-19 is a major public health issue.
Within your mouth, there are three clear signs of good digestive health. They have a low number of cavities, no evidence of gum disease, and no bad breath. In contrast, numerous cavities, bad breath, and signs of gum disease could indicate a digestive system problem.
Gum disease or gum infection is sometimes a contributing factor to gut problems. Worsening and recurring dental issues might be a sign that you need to eat more fiber, which feeds good bacteria. Talk to your doctor and reduce your intake of sugar. Remember, sugary food items feed candida yeast, which creates harmful bacteria in your mouth.