It’s hard to think about bacteria being all over your body, let alone in your mouth—but it is, in both cases. And it’s actually beneficial that some bacteria is there, at least if it’s the right kind. Mouth, or oral, microbiome live in different places in the mouth—and refers to a collection of bacteria that influence our health and even how disease can progress.
Mouth Microbiome: What Is It?
Our mouth plays host to various bacterial populations. This includes our tongue, teeth, the area surrounding tooth surfaces, above our gums, under our gums, and the hard palate.
Think of the mouth microbiome as a gatekeeper. It’s the first place where the immune system, our alimentary canal (the system in which food passes through the body), and our environment meet. The oral microbiome exists as a fine-tuned bacterial colony; around 700+ species of bacteria currently live within your mouth. Some of these are also present in your body’s other biomes, although to a smaller extent. The mouth microbiome is second only to the gut in diversity.
Why Is Mouth Microbiome Important?
Our mouths have a vital role to play in our overall health. It’s been termed the mouth-body connection, and we’d be remiss to ignore it. Imbalances in the mouth microbiome, like in the gut, lead to illness, inflammation, and disease. These imbalances can be devastating throughout the body, leading to issues in our GI tract, immune system, heart and cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and brain.
What to Do to Keep Your Mouth Healthy
Similar to what other health-related issues call for, there are things you can do (and not do) to maintain a proper balance of the mouth microbiome and ensure better well-being overall.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” There’s more truth to it than we might like to at first admit.
There has to be an intentional and health-driven diet that leads to a well-balanced and healthy mouth microbiome and overall oral health. This means eating food high in minerals, healthy fats, and vitamin K. Leafy greens and non-starch-based vegetables? Yes! Seafood, nuts, dairy, pastured eggs, chicken liver, and grass-fed butter are also go-to foods that enable a well-balanced diet rich in what you, and your mouth, need. And don’t forget about water. Drink plenty of it throughout the day to hydrate your mouth and you.
When there are “dos,” there are usually “don’ts.” This is no exception here. For a healthy mouth, avoid over-eating sugary sweets; it’s best to limit them (in general) to a high degree. Don’t drink drinks high in sugar or that otherwise cause demineralization over a long duration. This includes fruit juices, coffee, alcohol, and soda. As a general rule, only allot 15% of plate space to carbohydrates—pasta, rice, crackers, white bread, etc.
As always, oral hygiene is also necessary to keep your oral health as tip-top as it can be. Brush and floss routinely, preferably when you wake up, before you go to bed, and around half an hour after a high-carb meal. When brushing, remember to also scrape your tongue to remove bacteria buildup; this also helps clear bad breath! Finally, it’s important not to miss scheduled cleanings, as your hygienist can remove plaque that messes with your mouth microbiome.
Need to see the dentist? Schedule or reschedule a cleaning? Contact us to see our hours and set up an appointment with a hygienist and dentist. Plus, for more tooth-related tips and tricks, keep coming back to our blog!