by Jay R. Lopez, DDS, PC
Brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist every six months are all essential components of keeping your smile happy and healthy. But did you know that your oral health can also affect your gut health? As a Tucson dentist with more than 20 years of experience, I’m here to shed light on the correlation between the two and what you can do to improve your dental health.
How Does Oral Health Impact Gut Health?
At first, it may not seem like there is much of a link between oral health and gut health. Upon closer inspection, however, the relationship between the two is evident. To start, your mouth and your gut are directly connected, so any bad bacteria in one can easily affect the other. Inflammation-causing bacteria, like P. gingivalis or Fusobacterium nucleatum, in your mouth can travel throughout your body via the bloodstream and saliva into your digestive system, weakening your stomach’s ability to fight off infection in the process. In response, your body sends infection-fighting cells to the area. In the long-term, this can damage the stomach and leave the rest of your body vulnerable to disease and inflammation. In short, if you neglect to care for your teeth and gums, you’re at a higher risk of other health issues, like IBD.
The link between oral health and gut health is a two-way street. Imbalances in your gut’s microbiome (a collective term for all of the microscopic organisms in a particular environment) can adversely affect oral health, contributing to things like tooth decay and gum disease. Other gut issues, like GERD, can also have bad consequences for the teeth (GERD can create make the mouth overly acidic, which can cause premature wear and tear to the tooth enamel).
5 Tips for Caring For Your Teeth and Gums at Home
The good news is that many dental health problems, from cavities to gum disease, are largely preventable with the right best practices in place. With this in mind, here are a few to implement:
- Brush your teeth twice a day – Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride for two minutes at a time to remove food particles, bacteria, and debris.
- Floss daily – Brushing alone only cleans about 60% of the surface of your teeth. That’s why flossing is so important!
- Eat a vitamin-rich diet – A nutrient-dense diet will help keep your teeth strong from the inside-out. Plus, well-balanced meals will promote a healthier microbiome in your mouth and therefore your gut.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day – The list of water’s benefits is long, which is why you should be sure to have enough of it. Drinking water can rinse away food particles and bacteria and keep you hydrated. In addition, water neutralizes the acids bacteria create, lessening the impact on the mouth and gut.
- Quit unhealthy dental habits – Smoking and chewing on ice are just a few unhealthy dental habits that can take a serious toll on the look and function of your smile. So, opt for alternatives, like chewing on sugar-free gum!
Why Your Biannual Checkups & Cleanings Are Crucial
Unfortunately, many patients have adopted the belief that six-month dental checkups and cleanings are optional. In reality, they are essential for both your oral health and overall well-being. During your dental checkup, your dentist in Tucson will check for dental problems, like gum disease, while simultaneously screening for non-dental issues, like oral cancer.
Since the symptoms of each can easily fly under the radar with an untrained eye, these visits have the potential to be lifesaving. The cleaning portion, on the other hand, is designed to remove stubborn plaque, eliminate surface stains, and clean the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth, which in the process helps promote a healthier gut.
So, if your next checkup and cleaning isn’t on your calendar yet, now is the time to schedule it!
If you’re struggling with your gut health, you’re welcome to set up a free, 30-minute breakthrough session with Lindsey. We’ll talk about what you’ve been going through and I’ll tell you about my gut health coaching 5-appointment program in which I recommend lab tests, educate you on what the results mean and the protocols used by doctors to fix the problems revealed. Or if you’re ready to jump in right away or can just afford one appointment at a time, you can set up an 1-hour consultation with me.