Oral Health

What's Behind Your Oral Health?

What's Behind Your Oral Health?

What is your first thought when you hear “oral health”? Is it to have white and bright smile, maybe you are conscious about the smell of your breath, perhaps you want to be able to chew your food properly and avoid the dreaded toothache? All in all, there is a lot more that the state of our mouth can be responsible for!

The healthy mouth

Our oral cavity starts at the lips and ends at the throat. Different parts have various functions. Teeth should be strong enough to support eating, speaking, and breathing, while our gums should be firm, moist, odour- and pain-free in order to protect against unwanted bacteria getting into the bloodstream. Healthy oral cavity has no lumps, discolouration, ulcers and tooth decay, teeth should not be loose and should not be painful when you are chewing, brushing, or drinking hot or cold fluids s1.

Most importantly, when we speak about oral health, we are not only talking about healthy and white teeth, or odour-less breath but our overall health and wellbeing too. Besides the effect on self-esteem and social aspects, insufficient oral health can be the cause of a wide range of chronic disease s2.

    Dangers of gum disease

    According to the WHO, oral diseases affect around 3.5 billion people worldwide. These diseases include conditions that focus on local aspects, such as periodontitis, gum disease, oral cancer, tooth loss and dental carie s3. Having gum disease however also increases the risk of unwanted bacteria getting into the bloodstream and the gut, which can potentially lead to systemic diseases, blood clot, chronic inflammation, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, autoimmune-related conditions, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease s4.  

    The barrier

    There are several – physical, mucosal, and microbial - barriers working together within the oral cavity to prevent unfavourable bacterial species getting into the tissues and causing these unnecessary diseases. One of these barriers, the oral microbial layer is composed of billions of bacteria. Optimal oral microbiome can inhibit and eliminate such bacterial species that could potentially lead to the development of ill health; however, with poor oral hygiene we may increase the risk of bacteria colonising the teeth up to 10 times!5

    Today’s focus

    There has been a huge attention around gut microbiome and many people are taking pro - and prebiotics to optimise their digestive function. The oral microbiome however has not been having a big enough emphasis, and not many people are thinking about the importance of protecting their oral cavity. Unfortunately, most toothpaste on the market contain harmful substances such as alcohol, artificial sweeteners, sodium sulphate and fluoride that can disturb the oral microbiome and as a result, your overall health6. The use of specific probiotics in toothpaste can, for example, help to support oral health, protect against the risk of oral and therefore systemic diseases too.

    Dr Mark Burhenne

    We recently spoke with functional dentist Dr Mark Burhenne on The Gutology Podcast, who blew us away with his insights into oral health.

      If you'd like to find out more about the oral microbiome and what's hiding in your toothpaste, you can listen to the full podcast here:

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      1. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 2023. The Nutrition Source, Oral Health [online]. Boston: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Available from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/oral-health/
      2. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020. Adult Oral Health. [online]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/index.html
      3. World Health Organisation (WHO), 2023. Oral Health. [online]. WHO. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/oral-health#tab=tab_1
      4. Oral Health Foundation, 2023. The importance of a healthy smile. [online]. Warwickshire: Oral Health Foundation. Available from: https://www.dentalhealth.org/healthysmile
      5. Li, X., Kolltveit, K., M., Tronstad, L., Olsen, I. 2000. Systemic diseases caused by oral infection. Clin Microbiol Rev. 13(4):547-58.
      6. Gold Coast Holistic Dental Care, 2023. Find out the 7 toothpaste ingredients you should avoid. [online]. Holistic Dental Health Care. Available from: https://gcholisticdentalcare.com.au/7-toothpaste-ingredients-to-avoid.html