The impact oral hygiene has on the gut is key to general well being – after all the mouth is the gateway to the rest of our body, meaning any bacteria thriving in the mouth can be easily distributed through the digestive tract, the lungs, and even the bloodstream.
Oral bacteria – what it does and where…
There are over 700 species of bacteria and microorganisms that have the potential of growing in your mouth. The teeth, tongue and gums harbour colonies of both good and bad microbes, all of which have a variety of effects on your oral health.
Whilst bad bacteria can produce enamel-weakening acids as well as increase the development of plaque and tooth decay, good bacteria can help prevent excessive amounts of harmful microbes as well as aid breath odour and early stages of digestion.
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Once these good and bad microbes have started to spread in the grooves of the teeth, the gum line, and even between microscopic bumps on the tongue, they can be discharged throughout the body via swallowing, eating, drinking and breathing.
Bacteria in the mouth can even be absorbed into the bloodstream via tiny abrasions in the gums and cheeks, as everyday motions such as chewing and brushing push these bacteria into small blood vessels in the oral skin tissues.
How can these bacteria contribute to gut health specifically?
The good news is, some bacteria that grow in the mouth are easily dissolvable by stomach acid, so once swallowed they won’t cause any problems.
However, some strains of bacteria, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, the main pathogen that causes periodontitis, can lead to inflammation of the stomach. If the levels of bacteria in the mouth increase or these oral diseases deteriorate, then gastric ulcers may also occur. This is because the pathogen that causes gum disease also contributes to ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining when consumed.
Generally speaking, oral bacteria can lead to the eventual weakening of the stomach, leading to inflammation throughout the whole digestive tract down to the bowels.
And what about general health?
In terms of overall health, oral bacteria can damage respiratory systems, leading to conditions like bacterial pneumonia. Also, excessive bacteria levels in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect the heart as well as the bones, contributing to a build-up of artery plaque as well as some types of arthritis.
If heart plaque reaches dangerous levels, endocarditis can develop, which involves an infection of the inner lining of the heart, and despite being a rare condition can be fatal.
Having poor dental health can be detrimental to the immune system as a whole, weakening the bodies’ defence and causing problems throughout.
To learn more about oral disease and the links between the mouth and body, why not take a look at the interactive library section of our app? As well as dental scans and trackers, we provide free educational articles and interactive top tips to keep your mouth and body healthy. Find out more below: