‘Brush your teeth’. These words echo in our minds as a reminder from our parents of the importance of oral health. 

Our entire GI track is full of natural bacteria needed to breakdown food for absorption and other processes, many of which are not yet fully understood. Most bacteria reside in the gut but the mouth has its own large and distinct bacteria or microbial community.

It is not only the lack of care for our teeth that can be damaging but also what we put in our mouth. Studies have found a higher intake of sugary and high-glycemic load foods—like doughnuts and colas can lead to poor oral health by altering the composition of the bacteria. When these good bacteria are altered, gingivitis or gum disease develops.

Oral health is connected to heart health. People with severe gum disease have a chronic bacterial infection. These ‘bad’ bacterial can get into the blood and cause inflammation to blood vessels. Good bacteria in our mouth provides Nitric oxide (NO) which helps relax blood vessels. Without enough ‘good’ bacterial, the NO levels drops and hypertension can occur.

Poor oral health can increase glucose levels. This is secondary to the stress of a chronic infection but also to weight gain associated. Without oral health, the process of food absorption that begins in the mouth is altered. Lack of nutrients leads to more hunger.

How Can You Improve Oral Health:

  • Avoid or at least limit sugar intake. Practice moderation.
  • Keep your mouth moist by drinking lots of water. If you are on medications that cause dry mouth, discuss options with your healthcare provider.
  • A new clinical study published in the scientific journal Nutrients found that consuming grapes significantly increased the diversity of bacteria in the gut which is considered essential to good health overall.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Stop smoking or chewing tobacco. Tobacco users are 3 times more likely to lose ALL their teeth!
  • Brush and floss teeth twice daily.
  • Rinse with mouthwash AFTER brushing to help strengthen enamel and fight gum disease.
  • Add Probiotics to improve healthy bacterial. Particularly L.reuteri is a good probiotic specific to oral health. It can reduce plaque formation and improve oral health in people with periodontal disease. Other strains can improve oral health as well.
  • Visit your dentist at least once a year

Don’t neglect your mouth when staying healthy.

Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, info@diabetesmgtassociates.com.  

Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.