Why You Should Look After Your Oral Health

Look after your oral health

World Oral Health Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy mouth.

Of course, poor oral health is connected with tooth decay, gum disease, pain and inconvenience, but did you know the overall health of your body is intimately connected with the health of your mouth?

In this blog you’ll learn about some of the widespread effects of oral health issues, and why a healthy mouth is so important.

Your Mouth – Where it all Starts

Functional medicine is passionate about maximising gut health, as your gut is where good health – or disease – originates. However, your digestive system starts in your mouth.

Hundreds of different species of bacteria reside in your mouth, living on your teeth, gums, tongue and cheeks. They form part of your body’s overall microbiome, an ecosystem of micro-organisms co-existing within you. The most well-known microbiome is the one in your gut.

The species of bacteria making up your oral microbiome are similar to your gut microbiome, but not identical. Both are ideally dominated by health-promoting species because if pathogenic bacteria gain control, problems occur. They produce acids, attacking tooth enamel and causing tooth cavities, while creating inflammation, leading to gum disease.

You swallow millions of bacteria every day in your saliva. These make their way into your gut, so your oral microbiome influences your gut microbiome and digestive health. The bacteria living in your mouth can also easily migrate via your bloodstream into any other part of your body.

Oral Bacteria and Inflammation

One organ intimately connected with your mouth is your heart. People with gum disease have a higher risk of heart attacks because pathogenic bacteria from their oral microbiome can cause inflammation of the blood vessels around the heart and heart valves.

But the influence of oral health spreads much wider than this. Conditions ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to diabetes to dementia, inflammatory bowel disease and even obesity are all connected with pathogenic bacteria in the mouth causing ongoing inflammation all around the body. Brain health in particular is connected with the oral microbiome, not surprising given the proximity of your brain to your mouth. If the wrong type of bacteria access your brain, inflammation will be created there, too.

Not only do they create inflammation, but those errant bacteria in your mouth produce foul-smelling gases – cue bad breath. So if you do have stinky breath, it’s a sign you need to attend to your oral microbiome.

A Word on Mercury Fillings

Teeth have traditionally been filled with silver fillings or amalgam, containing mercury. This metal is so poisonous it’s considered by the World Health Organisation to be one of the top ten substances of major public health concern. It’s toxic to nerves, yet many people are walking around with a mouth full of mercury. To what extent amalgam fillings give off mercury vapour to be absorbed into the bloodstream is unknown.

Nowadays, alternatives to mercury fillings made of composite resin or porcelain are available. If old mercury fillings are removed and replaced, it’s important the correct procedures are taken to minimise any mercury escaping and accessing your body.

Root canals can be an issue for some people. A dead tooth does not have a nerve supply, so a low-grade infection can rumble on unsuspected around the tooth, harbouring bad bacteria without you knowing it.

How to Improve Your Oral Health

Often, when it comes to teeth, it’s tempting to leave well alone until something goes wrong. Yet, oral ill-health is largely preventable, with any problems usually easily treated in their early stages. As well as regular brushing and flossing, here are some strategies to maximise your oral health:

  • Pathogenic bacteria love sugar, so avoid foods containing refined starches rapidly broken down into sugar in your mouth, as they’ll feed the types of bacteria you don’t want to be there. Eat plenty of fibre-rich foods instead to naturally clean teeth and gums.
  • Co-Enzyme Q10 is an antioxidant helping to control inflammation, especially in your gums. It’s made in your body, but less is produced as you age so a supplement might be needed.
  • Vitamin C is crucial for healthy gums.
  • Pathogenic bacteria love an acidic environment, so go easy on acidic drinks, particularly sugar-laden fruit juices.
  • Avoid antiseptic mouthwashes as these wipe out your oral bacteria, good and bad.

Functional medicine believes all parts of your body are interconnected, and your mouth is no exception. When you consult a functional medicine practitioner, they will take a detailed case history from you, considering symptoms in all areas of your body to build up a picture of how they are connected.

Functional testing using samples of blood, hair and urine can assess whether your body’s levels of mercury are elevated, and how efficiently your body can detoxify it.

If you suspect poor oral health could be contributing to your health issues, contact us today for a consultation.

Are you concerned about Oral Health and would like to discover how functional medicine can help?

Why not request a free 15 Discovery Call.

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