Did you know that there is a direct link between your digestive health and oral health? Many functional dentists (dentists that use more holistic health practices and understand the function of the body rather than only treating topical symptoms) can detect digestive issues by looking at the mouth and likewise predict oral complications due to existing digestive issues. In order to heal one we must heal the other.
As you know from many of my articles, digestion is fundamental to the health of the entire body. However, this connection between gut and oral health is unique specifically because the mouth microbiome is linked to the gut microbiome. Microbiome is a complex network of microbes that work together to digest food and communicate with our immune system about foreign or invasive bacteria, viruses, etc. (About 80% of our immune system is located within our digestive tract.) We have microbes in our mouth that start this job and pass into the gut where trillions of microbes (primarily in our large intestine) complete the work.
Unfortunately, our microbiome can be damaged by many offenders. For example, processed foods high in sugar and starches can feed yeast in our gut and cause overgrowth. They can also impair our bodies ability to produce adequate enzymes and stomach acid which results in an overgrowth of pathogens and poorly digested foods. Lack of fiber in our diet starves good bacteria in the large intestine and leaves them without the ability to repair our gut walls. These all can lead to a host of gut issues which spiralize to other chronic health concerns.
All this to say, if you can relate to any of the digestive issues described above, your oral health is impacted! If you are not struggling with evidence of oral dysfunction, be advised this digestive dysfunction puts a big stressor on your mouth. However, if you have wrestled with oral issues, despite good hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth 2-3 times daily, flossing daily, regular dental visits, etc. but still have issues, it is time to also give some love to your gut!
What should you do? A huge first step is to remove the offenders such as sugar and processed starches. Then begin replacing them with nourishing whole foods. This is the first simple step --although a huge lifestyle change for many. The second can be more complex depending on your individual body. When I support clients on their digestion, it is a process of determining the best protocol for them. If they have any irritable bowel issues, fiber might exacerbate the problem. If there is an overgrowth in bacteria, it may require specific probiotic strains to balance the microbiome. But incredibly, God designed our bodies to heal and repair, and it is possible to see transformation within both your digestion and oral health! Please reach out for support or to share your journey of oral and digestive health if you can relate. I always love to hear from my readers!