What is Your Oral Microbiome and How Can You Keep it in Balance for Better Health?
The oral microbiome is not something you hear about everyday. Did you know that approximately 6 billion bacteria exist in the human mouth? That may sound alarming. However, there are specific types of oral bacteria that are necessary for your oral and overall health. Simply put, it’s all about balance. The key is to be proactive about taking care of your mouth in order to help keep your general health on track. Therefore, Dr. E encourages everyone to take a few minutes to scroll down and learn more about oral microbes and why they are so important to your overall health.
What is the Oral Microbiome?
The oral microbiome is a complex community of microorganisms found within the mouth. Second only to the gut, the oral microbiome is one of the largest microbial communities within the human body! Oral microbes live on the surfaces of the teeth, tongue and gums, attaching themselves to both soft and hard oral tissues. These microbes play a key role in managing metabolism, digestion, blood pressure, acidity levels and other essential functions. Consequently, both good and bad bacteria exist within the microbiome, which is why it is important to try to balance them by practicing proper oral hygiene and adopting other healthy habits.
How do Oral Microbes Keep You Healthy?
Our microorganisms must work in concert together to simultaneously protect the immune system and ward off harmful infections and diseases that can spread from the mouth to other parts of the body. Good microbes can play a beneficial role in our oral health, including warding off bad breath and cavities. In addition, a healthy oral microbiome can boost overall health in the following ways:
- Aiding digestion and turning food nutrients into energy
- Supporting a normal metabolism
- Regulating blood pressure
- Circulating healthy minerals throughout the oral cavity
- Strengthening tooth enamel
- Preventing stress and inflammation
Are Your Oral Microbes Out of Balance?
Remember, an imbalance of microbes can contribute to oral and other health risks, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and even certain cancers. With this in mind, here are some of the signs to watch out for that indicate your oral microbes may be out of balance, potentially putting your overall health at risk:
- Bad breath
- Teeth sensitivity
- Increased plaque
- Bleeding and/or receding gums
- Tooth decay/cavities
How to Improve Your Oral Microbiome
Can you take certain actions to achieve a healthy balance of microbes? Fortunately, the answer is YES! Consider adopting some of these microbiome “friendly” habits to help ensure that your oral (and overall) health stays on track:
- Practice proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly. BUT, be careful not to go overboard using mouthwash. Over-the-counter antiseptic mouthwashes have been found to destroy beneficial oral microbes.
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet that contains high-antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods. Examples include green, leafy veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, citrus, berries, organic meats and poultry, wild-caught fish, healthy fats and probiotics. Limit sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods.
- Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water to promote saliva production and avoid sugary drinks.
- Exercise and manage stress to help boost circulation, decrease inflammation and balance out your microbiome.
- Visit your dentist regularly! Your dentist will check for signs of microbiome imbalance and treat symptoms as needed.
Oral Microbiome: the bottom line
Let’s summarize! It’s important to maintain harmony in the mouth to avoid an abundance of bad bacteria in the microbiome that can put your oral and overall health at risk. A healthy, balanced oral microbiome helps keep your smile (and your breath) fresh and white. But, more importantly, it will promote more positive interaction with other systems of the body to result in better general health. All in all, practicing proper oral hygiene, eating nutrient-rich foods, exercising and staying hydrated can contribute to a balanced oral microbiome and a better, healthier YOU.
It’s a busy time of year. Be sure to keep your oral health in balance by scheduling your next appointment with the Dr. E Cosmetic and Dentistry team: 480-494-2435