Take Care of Your Mouth for a Healthier Gut

Poor dental health has a significant impact on gut health. The mouth is the gateway to the digestive system and the bacteria that live in it can directly affect those in the gut. When harmful bacteria overgrow in the mouth, they can produce harmful byproducts, such as hydrogen sulfide, which can damage the lining of the gut and cause inflammation. Inflammation can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea.Take care of your mouth for a healthier gut.

Additionally, poor dental health can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions can cause chronic inflammation in the mouth, which can then lead to inflammation throughout the body.

In general, the health of your mouth and gut are closely linked. Taking care of your teeth and gums can help keep your gut healthy.

How does gut health affect mouth health?

Just as our gut health can have a significant impact on various aspects of our overall health, it can also influence our dental health. Here’s a look at how the two are related:

  1. Nutrient Absorption and Oral Health: A healthy gut is critical for optimal nutrient absorption. Key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D (for tooth enamel and bone health) and vitamin A (for salivary function and oral tissue health), are absorbed more efficiently in a healthy gut. If your gut health is compromised, it can lead to malabsorption of these nutrients, impacting your dental health.
  2. Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Oral Microbiome: The gut and mouth host diverse communities of microbes, also known as microbiomes. These communities are in constant communication with each other. A disrupted gut environment can affect the balance of the oral microbiome, potentially leading to oral health issues. For instance, certain harmful bacteria thriving in a disturbed gut environment may contribute to dental plaque formation, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  3. Gut Health and Inflammation: When the gut microbiome is off balance, inflammation can occur. This inflammation can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, including the mouth. Gum disease, or gingivitis, is a common inflammatory condition that can lead to more serious periodontal disease if left untreated.
  4. Influence of Gut Conditions on Oral Health: Some gut conditions can have an impact on oral health. For example, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause stomach acid to enter the mouth, damaging tooth enamel. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been linked with several oral conditions, including mouth ulcers and infections.

How to support your gut and dental health

To maintain a healthy gut and mouth, you must balance good nutrition, proper hygiene, and certain lifestyle habits. Here are few ways to support both

Balanced Diet: Vegetables and fruits are good for your microbiome because they increase the polyphenols and fiber content. These substances are used by your microbiome to produce anti-inflammatory metabolites for your gut and mouth.

Proper Hygiene: Regular brushing and flossing prevents tooth decay and gum disease by removing food particles and bacterial plaque from your mouth, keeping the oral microbiome in balance.

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water benefits both your gut and oral health. Water has so many benefits to our health. When our microbiomes, specifically the gut and oral microbiomes, are involved these are some of the ways that water is important.

  • Supports digestion
  • Improves nutrient absorption and bowel function
  • Helps to neutralize acid produced by bacteria that erode tooth enamel
  • Promotes saliva production, which is crucial for oral health

Regular Exercise and Adequate Sleep: Regular physical activity helps digestion, reduces inflammation, and may help maintain a healthy weight. Adequate sleep supports overall health–including your immune function. Chronic sleep deprivation upsets your gut microbiome balance, which may lead to oral health problems.

A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, proper hygiene, and exercise is the best way to support both your gut and oral health.

Best Ways to Take Care of Your Mouth for a Healthier Gut

There are so many tips out there to care for your mouth, but even some of those aren’t the best. Like how using mouthwash, a staple in most homes, can actually deplete your oral microbiome of necessary microbes to support health. 

We got together with Dr. Ken Brown, founder of Atrantil and gastroenterologist to see what his top tips for mouth care are — especially the ones that benefit our gut too. Here were his top suggestions.

Breath Work:

Throat and nasal breathing exercises can stimulate saliva production and keep your mouth moist, which promotes a balanced oral environment and reduces the risk of dry mouth. If you breathe through your nose, rather than your mouth, it naturally filters, warms, and humidifies the air you breathe in; however, if you breathe through your mouth this does not occur. 

Mouth-breathing can lead to dry mouth (xerostomia), which has negative effects on oral health such as

  • Reduced washing away of food particles
  • Less neutralization of harmful acids
  • Lower instance of remineralization of teeth. 

Chronic dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease because there is less saliva washing away food particles than there should be. A dry mouth also allows bacteria to thrive due to lack of saliva which can cause bad breath if left untreated.

Deep breathing exercises can help you regulate your breath. Deep breathing also makes sure you’re breathing through your nose. Examples include diaphragmatic breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, and many yoga breath control practices (pranayama).

Tongue Scraping:

Our tongues, like the rest of our mouths, are home to microorganisms and other bacteria. While some of these are beneficial and necessary for oral health, others can contribute to bad breath (halitosis), tooth decay, and gum disease if allowed to accumulate.

This is where tongue scraping comes in. You gently scrape your tongue from back (near the throat) to the front to physically remove this coating of bacteria and debris. Here’s how this benefits you:

  • Reduces Bad Breath: A lot of bad breath bacteria live on the tongue’s surface, so scraping the tongue removes these bacteria and their waste products, which are the primary sources of foul odors.
  • Improves Taste Sensation: Some people find that tongue scraping enhances their sense of taste. By removing the layer of debris from your tongue, your taste buds might be able to detect a wider range of flavors.
  • Promotes Overall Oral Hygiene: By removing bacteria and toxins from the tongue, you can help clean your mouth overall. This may reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.

Incorporating tongue scraping into your daily oral hygiene routine can be a simple and effective way to promote better oral health.

Mindful Eating:

Mindful eating is a practice that involves focusing on your food as you eat, savoring each bite, and paying attention to hunger and fullness cues. It has significant health benefits for oral and overall health.

  1. Chewing Thoroughly and Slowly: The digestive process begins in the mouth, where chewing (mastication) breaks down food into smaller pieces and saliva breaks down carbohydrates. Chewing your food thoroughly not only aids in digestion but also promotes saliva production. Saliva helps to wash away food particles and bacteria from the teeth and gums, neutralize acids that can erode tooth enamel, and provide disease-fighting substances throughout your mouth.
  2. Recognizing Hunger and Fullness Cues: Eating in response to physical hunger rather than emotional cues can help people prevent overeating and the intake of unnecessary extra calories. Overeating can lead to weight gain and related health issues. People with diabetes, for example, have a higher risk of oral health problems like gum disease.
  3. Reducing Acid Erosion: Consuming foods and drinks high in sugar and acid can lead to tooth enamel erosion. Eating mindfully allows you to be aware of these potentially harmful foods and beverages and rinse your mouth with water after consuming them to minimize their impact.

In short, mindful eating involves eating slowly and paying attention to the food you consume. It benefits not only your oral health but your overall well-being too. It’s about taking the time to enjoy your food, appreciate its benefits, and use it to nourish your body effectively.

These are just a few of the best ways to take care of your mouth for a healthier gut. Have you tried any of them before? If not, let us know in the comments which one you are most excited to try first!

So many things can influence our gut health and it can feel overwhelming with all of the information out there. But know this, taking small steps every day towards taking care of your body and doing the things you know are healthy is the best way to start and keep going. You’ve got this and in no time your mouth and gut will be thanking you!