Here are 5 Simple Steps to Keep Oral Flora in Check
It’s not the most appealing scientific fact to consider, but each of us harbors millions of bacteria inside our mouths. Dental professionals call this the oral flora and it tells a lot about our body’s state of health.
While we all know brushing our teeth regularly helps fight cavities, bad breath, and stained teeth, good oral hygiene routines may play a critical role in our overall health. Why? New research suggests not keeping our oral flora in check can have profound positive consequences on the rest of the body.
Since ancient times, it has been a very popular – if unproven – notion that all disease begins in the gut. That’s because our digestive tracts are filled with highly permeable membranes which can become susceptible to bacterial pathogens that make their way in from our external environment. Our gut is also home to 80% of our entire immune system. If our gut isn’t healthy, the thinking goes, it’s nearly impossible for the rest of our bodies to be healthy. And there’s plenty of modern day research to back this ancient thinking up. Today’s researchers have found many links between our intestinal bacteria and organs.
So how does our oral hygiene come into play?
Here’s a relatively unknown fact: the digestive tract actually begins in the mouth. We start digesting sugars and carbohydrates the second they hit the tongue. That means much of the bacteria we find in our mouth mirrors the bacteria that we’ll find in our stomach and the rest of our digestive system. When non-native bacterium, that has found their way into our mouths, make their way into our intestines, we are at risk for developing chronic inflammatory infections.
What can we do help prevent this?
The first step to a healthy gut is a healthy mouth. So make sure that you do these five things regularly:
- Brush teeth for two minutes, at least twice a day
- Clean your tongue of bacteria with a tongue scraper
- Floss and rinse
- Eat a high fiber diet and probiotic fermented foods
- Visit your dental professional at least two times a year.
Oral health in many ways reflects our gut health, and our gut health in many ways reflects our body’s overall health. Being mindful of the entry point to the entire system, our mouths is one of the best ways to keep bacteria, and the harmful internal reactions they can cause, at bay.