Word of Mouth
Gum disease and other oral health problems can be a sign that your body is out of balance
Q My dentist told me that poor dental/ oral health can increase the risk for other diseases. Is this just an urban legend to generate more dental business?
— Ryan K., Minneapolis
a: No, it’s not an urban legend at all. The link between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease has long been established. And more recently, researchers have been taking a great deal of interest in the gut- brain axis, which involves the connection between intestinal health and mental health.
The good bugs that reside throughout our bodies— including in the mouth— work in many ways, largely by helping to digest nutrients so they can be absorbed, and also by helping to form enzymes and neurotransmitters, including adrenaline, cortisol, serotonin, and GABA.
This delicate balance of microbes in the mouth and rest of the digestive tract can be thrown out of whack easily, creating a range of health problems. For instance, there is a lot of microfl oradisrupting junk out there posing as “food.” I don’t want to sound judgmental, but I’m always shocked when I walk into a superstore and see aisle upon aisle of fl uff ed- up, GMO- laced corn- carbs with artifi cial fl avorings. Protect your brain! Don’t walk down these aisles.
Your Mouth Is Full of Bacteria & Why It Matters
The mucosa- covered surfaces in your mouth are prime targets for bacteria, and various types can be found on the throat, tongue, teeth, and gums no matter how healthy you are— especially Streptococcus, Neisseria, Fusobacterium, and Prevotella bacteria. Recent research shows that Parkinson’s patients are low in Prevotella bugs in their mouth and gut.
The mouth is subjected to constant environmental changes, and any disturbance in the mouth leads to changes in microfl ora. When conditions are disrupted, and the helpful bacteria are outnumbered by pathogenic bacteria, diseases can occur. Some of the same bacteria that cause bad breath on the tongue will cause periodontal disease between the gum and the tooth surface.
To help restore bacterial balance to your mouth and throat, probiotic formulas featuring Streptococcus salivarius K12 are available. These are designed to support your body’s key natural defense system. In addition to probiotics, calcium, magnesium, silica, zinc, vitamin C, and CoQ10 are all important for oral health.
What Else Can You Do?
Brush and fl oss your teeth twice daily. If your teeth are irregularly spaced, also consider water- piking. Rinse your mouth out right after eating anything, even a small snack. Eat lively foods ( e. g., pickles, yogurt, kimchi) and raw foods daily. Go easy on animal products, or go vegan. Check it out. You might feel even better!
Emily A. Kane, ND,
LAc, has a private naturopathic practice in Juneau, Alaska, where she lives with her husband and daughter. She is the author of two books on natural health, including Managing Menopause Naturally. Visit her online at dremilykane. com.