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Oral Health and the Body

Ophelia Gherman, M.D.
May 30, 2016
Oral health is a gateway to total body wellness, and good oral hygiene greatly impacts our health! By maintaining healthy gums and teeth, we can also maintain a youthful smile and prevent harmful diseases. Here's a look at some reasons oral health is so important and ways we can improve it.

Oral health is a gateway to total body wellness, and good oral hygiene greatly impacts our health! By maintaining healthy gums and teeth, we can also maintain a youthful smile and prevent harmful diseases. In fact, research shows that good flossing habits actually have a positive link to longevity.  


Heart Disease: Plaque formation in our blood vessels leads to heart disease and possibly heart attacks and strokes. However, statistical analysis has closely linked gum disease and heart disease. Dental plaque and periodontal disease were linked to 91 percent of those having heart disease and strokes. Scientific opinion is that inflammation from the mouth can lead to inflammation in the blood vessels.


Diabetes: Gingivitis and periodontal disease have both been linked to developing insulin resistant diabetes. The bacteria that permeates your gums can easily enter the bloodstream, causing an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response is triggered by your liver which senses an unbalanced bacterial load. Studies are ongoing to help determine the type of bacteria and viruses that can place children at risk of developing Type 1 Diabetes. 


Cancer: Lingering bad bacteria in the oral cavity release a host of toxins that are continuously ingested upon swallowing and eating. This chronic inflammation of the oral cavity increases your risk for oral pharyngeal cancers (cancers of the mouth, throat, tonsils and base of tongue). Poor oral health has even been linked to Colorectal cancer. Many Colorectal tumors harbor a rich colony of the oral bacteria Fusobacteria nucleatum. Although the direct link between this bacteria and Colorectal cancer is yet missing, consistent oral hygiene paired with a high-fiber plant based diet will help lower your risk of multiple types of cancer.


Gastrointestinal problems: Oral bacteria are directly linked to the gut bacteria, both having direct influence upon the other. Gingivitis, cavities, and poor dentition (condition of teeth) can disseminate harmful bacteria into the gut and thus affect mind and body. Our mouth naturally contains bacteria—some good and others detrimental to our health. By investing 5 minutes every morning and evening to oral hygiene, we are able to ward off a host of expensive and time-consuming illnesses.


Ways to maintain healthy dentition:

  • Floss daily with non-waxed floss: Flossing removes excess food particles and sticky bacteria that lodges between our teeth and gums. If you notice bleeding after you floss, it is a sign of gingivitis and inflammation. This means your mouth bones and dental ligaments are under attack by a host of bacteria, weakening their ability to support healthy teeth, which means this is exactly the time to make flossing a habit. Daily flossing and proper brushing should be continued until no further bleeding occurs. It would be wise to see a dentist if bleeding persists for longer than a week.


  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily, in the morning and before going to sleep: The toothbrush should be held at a 45 degree angle and gently moved in a circular fashion, approximately 20 times per location. Brushing too briskly or forcefully can cause damage to the gums and cause recession. Clean your tooth brush by soaking it in some hydrogen peroxide once a week. This will help minimize bacterial colonization on your toothbrush. It is also wise to replace your toothbrush as soon as the bristles bend or fray.


Choose the best toothpaste: A natural-based toothpaste will help reduce the bacteria load and strengthen your teeth. Here is a recipe for an easy homemade natural toothpaste that is full of antibacterial properties found in coconut oil, essential oils and minerals found in sea salt or trace mineral drops:


4 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon xylitol powder (may be found at any local super-center)

20 drops cinnamon or clove essential oil

20 drops peppermint essential oil

30 drops trace minerals (for sodium, potassium, chloride, Magnesium, sulfate, boron and lithium).


This recipe was adapted from Dr. Axe Food's medicine website. You may use orange essential oil, tea-tree essential oils and sea salt instead of trace mineral salts.   


Allow your diet to help, since diet also plays an important role in dental health. By avoiding processed sugars and carbohydrates (white flour), you prevent proliferation of bad bacteria that cause decay and gingivitis. 



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