As part of National Smile Month, Dr Maria Papavergos is helping us brush up on our dental hygiene by raising awareness of how our overall health can be improved simply by taking care of our oral health.
Over 700 species of micro-organisms live on our teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue
Dentist, Dr Maria is keen to promote the benefits of good bacteria – we hear a lot about boosting good bacteria for better gut health, but do you know your mouth is also populated by millions of bacteria too?
In fact, over 700 species of these little micro-organisms live on your teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue. Some of them are beneficial, helping to improve our oral health and general wellbeing, whilst others cause us unwanted issues. Together, they form what is known as the oral microbiome or the microbiome of the mouth.
Maria’s good lifestyle choices:
- Maintain a balanced lifestyle. Balanced oral microbiome is the gateway to the gut and our overall health.
- Make time for movement. Exercise not only reduces risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and obesity, but evidence shows an improvement in our periodontal (gum) health too.
- Stay hydrated. Hydration supports healthy saliva flow; saliva contains several mechanisms to restrict growth of ‘bad bacteria’ and supports our immunity as well as the balance of the oral microbiome.
- Get outside. Nature is great for stress management and vitamin D absorption is supportive of oral health.
- Practice stress management, such as mindful exercise, yoga and meditation. Stress reduces our saliva flow, disrupting the oral microbiome and causes a dry mouth. This increases our susceptibility to oral disease, along with a less-focused approach to oral hygiene, common during stressful periods.
The oral microbiome
It’s important to nurture your oral microbiome to keep the balance of good versus bad bacteria in check.
Our lifestyle choices, like the foods we eat, taking antibiotic treatments, smoking and using alcoholic mouthwash for example, can disturb the natural balance and destroy the good bacteria as well as the bad ones. This can create the perfect environment for the unbeneficial bacteria to thrive and lead to a range of dental health problems like tooth decay, gingivitis and bad breath.
So often the solution is to reach for the toothpaste and mouthwash to obliterate all the ‘germs’ to improve your oral hygiene. But unknown to many is that a vast array of well-known oral care products on the market contain ingredients such as SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), alcohol and parabens, which wipe out all the bacteria and disrupt the delicate natural balance that we need to maintain. However, we can keep our oral microbiome balanced and healthy with dental probiotics.
Dental probiotics explained
Taking care of your teeth and gums by incorporating dental probiotics into your oral hygiene routine will promote a balanced oral microbiome and benefit the rest of your body. Dental probiotics are emerging as a promising concept in the treatment of gum disease, they can also help reduce the risk of dental decay by reducing levels of certain decay-causing bacteria. They display anti-inflammatory properties, helping to improve gum health and reduce bleeding from the gums.
There is also evidence that dental probiotics manage bad breath, by suppressing the production of bacteria producing volatile sulphur compounds that contribute to oral malodour.
What’s really interesting is the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of dental probiotics not only benefit the oral microbiome but also have further positive impact on the rest of the body. Just as good gut health affects the entire body, a balanced oral microbiome supports gut health and general immunity.
Dr Maria explained: “Our mouth’s microbiome is in delicate balance, and our oral health is part of the balancing act of our overall health. My mission is to empower and energise people with the knowledge to nurture their own mouth’s microbiome and reap the rewards of overall health.”
My tips to good oral hygiene:
- Routine is key; keep up a good brushing/flossing regime and remove dental plaque often.
- Balanced eating is essential – look for foods high in plant diversity, low in refined carbohydrates and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Know your sugars – be mindful of ‘free sugars’ that drive decay-causing bacteria.
- Introduce probiotics – encourage good bacteria thus rebalancing the oral microbiome. Eating cultured/fermented foods can help, especially milk products such as live yoghurt and kefir.
Dr Maria is working with the Luvbiotics® Advanced Dental Hygiene range which uses bionet technology powered by probiotics and xylitol with natural ingredients to promote good bacteria and balance oral flora for a happier, healthier mouth and improved wellbeing.
This article is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.