Date:25 January 2024
- ● The oralome
- ● Health impacts of oral dysbiosis
- ● Fluoride and other oral foes
- ● Top tips to create robust health in your oralome
- The past 4 years has done untold damage to our relationship with microbes. The messaging to sanitise, sanitise, sanitise has been turned up several notches, but with scant regard to the essentiality of the raft of microbes on which our health and wellbeing relies — complex, intelligent microbial communities that interact with each other and with their human support systems that create unique microbiomes for each and every one of us
- One of the most neglected and dysfunctional microbiomes is the one in our mouths – the oralome or oral microbiome. The community of microbes that live in our mouths, when dysregulated, can cause poor dental health, and travel to other parts of our body, contributing to the development of a multitude of disease states from Alzheimer’s and heart disease to cancer and beyond
- A vibrant and thriving oralome creates multiple health benefits, including a great set of healthy teeth to last you long into your senior years
- We’re heavily sold on fluoride-laden, alcohol-based, and antibacterial dental products, but these products are toxic and contribute to the destruction of our highly complex, intelligent oralome
- Catch our top tips to create a healthy and vibrant oralome, which in turn will support your overall health and wellbeing and reduce your risk of creating dysfunction and developing debilitating disease states.
Have you nuked those nasty decay-causing bacteria in your mouth in the last 24 hours with fluoride toothpaste and alcohol-based mouthwash?
We hope not. Read on…
The last 4 years has probably done more to damage our relationship with microbes than at any other time since the inception of proper sanitation in the modern world. From masks to the now ubiquitous hand sanitisers, our focus has been diligently and expertly drawn repeatedly to the danger of pathogens, whilst pressing our survival buttons again and again, lest we not make a sufficiently strong and real association between survival fear and pathogens. An association that we already have programmed into our genetic blueprints as a hangover from times long past, which makes us humans vulnerable to re- and pre- survival programming.
But not all microbes are bad pathogens out to get us. In fact, such is our deeply symbiotic, and evolutionary, relationship with them, we are only around 1% human DNA – the rest is microbial DNA contained within our vast microbiome. Did you know that your body is home to a diverse and functionally important accumulation of symbiotic microbes that are found within and across different sites like the gut, respiratory tract, skin, vagina and oral cavity? Just the bacterial element of our microbiomes are thought now to be almost a 1:1 ratio — a typical 70kg person has around 3 trillion human cells and around 3.8 trillion bacterial cells, not counting all the rest of the microbes making up the microbiome. More than that, our microbiomes are hugely individual and are unique to each and every one of us. Yet how often do you spare a thought for your hard-working microbial partners and gear your food and lifestyle choices to their needs?
There is still so much that we don’t know about the microbiome, but we do know that human health depends on it being diverse, highly functional and robustly healthy. This article is dedicated, in particular, to the oral microbiome — the oralome — given its extreme importance to our general health and, still too widespread, disregard by conventional dentistry and healthcare.
“From a holistic dentist’s perspective, the health of your oral microbiome plays a critical role in your overall well-being” – Dr Elmar Jung, Holistic Dentist
Despite knowing how important it is to visit the dentist or hygienist every 6 months, there are relatively few of us that seem to relish the trip to get our pearly whites checked. Did you know that fear of going to the dentist is such a thing that it’s even got a name — dentophobia? So, no matter how much we’d like to put off the inevitable visit or hope that good dental health will magically prevail, we need to place more, not less, importance on our teeth and entire oral cavity. Our whole health really does depend on it.
Our mouths provide an environment that is home to about 700 different species of bacteria, one of the biggest colonies of microbes in our body. In the same way that an imbalance in our gut microbiome can impact our health, the same is true for our oral microbiome. Especially as it’s so easy for microbes from our mouth to travel into and around our body to take up residence elsewhere in places they’re not meant to be. The discovery of our oral microbiome is credited to Willoughby Miller in 1890, which led to the normalisation of toothbrushing and flossing.
Modern day diets have negatively impacted the health of our oral ecosystem with the excessive consumption of fizzy drinks, high levels of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and onslaught of ultra-processed foods, leading to significant changes in oral health. Your mouth is one of the main ‘doorways’ into your body, so when things go wrong in our oralome, it can start a cascade of problems throughout the body, yet even when ill health strikes, it’s rare to see the mouth as a focus of treatment.
“The microbiome is like the control centre of your overall health. It’s the backstage crew that keeps the main show running smoothly” – Dr Elmar Jung, Holistic Dentist, Southampton, UK
Health impacts of oral dysbiosis
Why is the microbial community in our mouth so important? Well, for starters, digestion begins in the mouth. Our microbial mouth dwellers, found in saliva as well as on every surface in the oral cavity, help us break food down into smaller, more easily digestible pieces as part of the chewing process. Not only that, these tiny little defenders form part of our frontline defence system against invaders. When they’re in robust health and balance they help to fend off harmful organisms and keep our immune system in good order. When their health or balance is compromised, so is ours.
A major contributor to tooth decay (dental caries) is Streptococcus mutans, which thrives in the oral cavity. Although it doesn’t act alone in causing decay, S. mutans is able to alter the environment in which it lives to make it more favourable for other similar species to thrive.
One of the main protagonists in the development of disease, related to dysbiosis of the oral microbiome is Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), which is particularly associated with periodontal disease. P. gingivalis is a tough cookie, able to withstand stomach acid, in order to travel to the gut where it can take up residence and cause havoc. It’s been linked to the development of a multitude of health conditions, including:
- Gut related issues such as IBD
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory disease e.g. pneumonia, COPD, lung cancer, asthma
- Obesity and metabolic disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
Recent decades have seen an increase in head and neck cancers, primarily blamed on the HPV virus, yet such cancers have also been linked to oral dysbiosis promoted by the increase in sugar consumption and degraded ‘junk food’ diets.
…And now a word on your teeth
You may be surprised to learn that our teeth are connected to our organs and body systems as well as our emotional health via the energy meridians in our body, also used in acupuncture. The original tooth meridian chart was developed by Dr Reinhold Voll and Fritz Kramer in 1953.
In her book ‘Teeth Don’t Lie’, Danish dentist, Dorte Bredgard, takes us on a fascinating and energetic journey around the mouth. Describing the links between dental issues and the emotional connections of each tooth.
Fluoride and other oral foes
Fluoride has long been one of the bastions on which modern dentistry relies – its ‘sacred cow’ if you like. Criticise fluoride at your peril. Much like vaccines are to preventive medicine, fluoride is to the dental industry. Toothpaste, mouthwash and even many municipal water supplies are heavily laced with ‘fluoride’, which is typically delivered as sodium monofluorophosphate or sodium fluoride in dental products, and fluorosilicic acid (a by-product of fertiliser manufacturing) in municipal water. All of which are chemical forms that are not found in nature and as such, behave very differently in our bodies. Health authorities bombard us with educational material telling us that without the use of ‘fluoride’ our dental health will suffer, whilst all the while asserting its safety, but we don’t suffer from a deficiency of these toxic chemicals and only need absolutely minute trace amounts of the kind of mineral fluoride that the Earth produces for us.
Thankfully, chemical fluoride additives have become increasingly controversial as research continues to reveal its negative effects on our health and wellbeing and more people are becoming aware that they have been sold a line. The global fluoride-free dental products market reached a value of more than $6.30 billion USD in 2023. It’s hugely positive that the industry is further expected to grow to reach a value of above $10.36 billion USD by 2032.
A recent study, carried out by the University of Manchester in the UK, underscores the lack of benefit provided by water fluoridation on our dental health. Exposure to fluoride is suspected of impacting every part of the human body, including the cardiovascular, central nervous, digestive, endocrine, immune, integumentary, renal, respiratory, and skeletal systems. Susceptible groups like infants, children, and individuals with diabetes or renal problems, are known to be more severely impacted by intake of fluoride. We hope that more people will demand their right to informed consumer consent when it comes to fluoride, and particularly to the mass medication of water fluoridation. More than that, providing education about fluoride risks and fluoride toxicity to medical and dental professionals and students is paramount.
In addition to fluoride, alcohol has been found to reduce neutrophil function and decrease salivary flow, which affects the composition of the oral microbiome. It’s common to find chlorhexidine in many oral products and mouthwashes now, but a recent review has raised serious concerns over its effect on the oralome, whereby certain species of bacteria are killed, leaving others, often the unwanted, more pathogenic species, to predominate. There are many other dental products on the market containing a slew of new-to-nature chemicals. Please think carefully about the effect that these chemicals may have on your very intelligent oral microbiome before using them.
>>> Read more about fluoride related health problems
Top tips to create robust health in your oralome
Now you understand how important the health of your oral microbiome is, let’s look at some ways to nurture the right kind of microbes and ensure they live in a happy, healthy community in your mouth. Maintaining a balanced oral environment will benefit not only our teeth, but your whole body health as well.
- Does your nutrition need a reset? – poor dietary choices are one of the biggest contributors to poor dental health. Adopting a nutrient-rich, wholefood diet, high in alkaline plant foods and low in sugar and ultra-processed foods all help to nourish your oralome. Choose organic, grassfed, pasture-raised animal protein, wild sustainably caught fish and veg as fresh as you can get it. Remember to get in sufficient healthy fats through your day and avoid refined seed oils. Get rid of gluten, GMOs, sugar and additive-laden foods and don’t forget to chew your food thoroughly and take time to be mindful and savour what you’re eating. Consider the pH of the liquids you’re drinking and avoid sugary sodas and juices. The acid your mouth creates from the sugar in soft drinks slowly erodes the enamel leaving the teeth weaker and prone to decay. Plus, most sodas contain phosphoric acid and citric acid, which also cause erosion
>>> Get your copy of RESET EATING to nourish and care for your oralome
- Maintain good oral hygiene – regular brushing and daily flossing removes food particles, plaque and prevents the development of biofilms, which helps to prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria
- Use natural fluoride-free products – choose natural toothpaste and mouthwash products that don’t contain harsh chemicals such as fluoride, anti-bacterial agents or artificial additives, which can disrupt the balance of your oralome. New York based biological dentist, Dr Gerry Curatola, cautions against the use of products that contain ingredients such as xylitol, still promoted for good oral health
- Educate yourself – on the top 10 sources of chronic toxicity and inflammation in the mouth by watching Dr Gerry Curatola’s presentation from the Real Truth About Heath Conference 2023
- Manage stress – the higher your stress load, the more your oral health is impacted. Finding balance in a stressful world isn’t easy – but here are some ways to make it easier.
>>> Dip into the ANH archive for ways to help you manage stress in a healthy way
- Breathe mindfully – the practice of breathwork is one of the most powerful ways to help you to relax and manage stress as it shifts your state from ‘fight and flight’ to ‘rest and digest’ very rapidly. Proper breathing (diaphragmatic/belly breathing) is essential for not only for the health of our oralome, but our overall health and wellbeing.
>>> Create a daily breathwork practice with Meleni Aldridge’s Sovereign Breath Practice
- Pre- and pro-biotics – Support the health of your oralome with pre- and probiotic dental products, such as Dr Gerry Curatola’s Revitin toothpaste. Also consume plenty of fermented foods and beverages, such as kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Regular dental check-ups – Don’t put off your regular dental check-ups or visits to the hygienist. Ideally, switch to a holistic/biological dentist who understands the importance of the health of the oralome and its connection to health and wellbeing. Not only will they be fluoride-free, but also amalgam (mercury)- and metal-free too.
Your oral microbiome is like the conductor of a grand symphony – it influences every aspect of your health, from your heart to your mood. From promoting digestive health to supporting cardiovascular well-being, the oral microbiome is vital to your overall health. It is not just about having a radiant smile but about nurturing an essential part of your overall wellbeing. By understanding the connection between your oral microbiome and your health, you can take proactive steps to maintain balance and support your body’s natural defences. Remember, a healthy oral microbiome is not just a cosmetic concern or avoiding dentist lectures; it’s about living your best, healthiest life. So, give your mouth the love and attention it deserves – your body will thank you with a big, healthy smile. – Dr Elmar Jung, Holistic Dentist, Southampton, UK
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