Both inside and out, our bodies harbour a huge array of micro-organisms. While bacteria are the biggest players, we also host single-celled organisms known as archaea, as well as fungi, viruses and other microbes – including viruses that attack bacteria. Together these are dubbed the human microbiota.
We all know about the gut microbiome and skin microbiome and many do invest in a range of probiotic products for their skin and gut. Few, however, have spared a thought for their oral microbiome. However, did you know that the oral microbiome is the second largest after the gut and houses over 700 different types of bacteria and viruses?
Apart from flashing your pearly whites with a dazzling smile and fresh breath, there are deeper reasons as to why one should look after their oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene is linked to premature ageing and may increase your risk of certain diseases that are linked to inflammation.
Repeated skirmishes with invasive bacteria in your mouth and gums can contribute to longer-term age-related ‘chronic inflammation which puts your immune system in a constant low-level state of agitation that effectively accelerates the ageing process and makes the immune system itself less effective at fighting external threats. It increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes and may also be linked to dementia.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is thought that the tongue is a microcosm of the entire body and by looking at the shape, colour, coating and texture you are able to detect imbalances or deficiencies in the body.
With this in mind, it might be time to take a greater interest in looking after our oral microbiome in a bid to focus more on preventative healthcare as opposed to curing a disease.
4 Tips for Oral Microbiome Care
- Regularly clean the dental plaque from your teeth by brushing twice a day. Flossing is important too because it removes dental plaque hiding between the teeth.
- Antimicrobial mouth rinses are not needed unless recommended by your dentist, as they will remove bacteria that might be important for your health.
- Reducing the total amount and number of times a day you eat sugar. This reduces the availability of simple sugars that oral bacteria can turn into acids, which in turn may help support a healthy oral microbiome and protect your teeth from decay.
- Eating a varied and healthy diet is also crucial, for both your oral and gut microbial communities. Eat the recommended five servings of vegetables a day!
Added sugars and refined flours commonly found in modern food does not support the diverse communities of bacteria our mouths need. When it comes to our microbiome, we really are what we eat. So try and eat fresh as far as possible and reduce your intake of processed sugar!