The Mouth-Gut Connection

The Mouth-Gut Connection

Your gut health is an important balance of bacteria within your GI tract that influences GI function. Not only does your gut health affect how your body digests food and absorbs nutrients, but is also an important influence on your body’s metabolism, immune system, and overall health.  When there is an imbalance within your GI tract, it can have a negative effect on your health.

The Oral-Gut Relationship

You might be surprised to learn that your oral health plays an important role in gut health. Interestingly, your mouth also has a balance of bacteria that are essential for oral health and when there is an imbalance in your mouth bacteria, it can set the stage for oral disease. Those oral imbalances can cause gut imbalances too.

Think of your GI tract as one, continuous connection throughout your body, with your mouth serving as the main entrance point. Just like the gut microbiome, there are important bacteria in your mouth that not only help to keep your teeth healthy, but also serve as the first line of defense for your body. Essentially, the goal is to have more of the good bacteria than the bad bacteria. But when you have oral disease, a bacterial imbalance begins. 

When you have tooth decay or gum disease, you are at higher risk of problems with your gut health because harmful oral bacteria can spread throughout the body through the sulcus in your gum. Even when you eat and swallow, harmful oral pathogens can make their way into your body!

Oral Bacteria and Inflammation

One particularly nasty oral bacteria called P. Gingivalis is a big culprit because it promotes inflammation. Not only can this bacteria cause oral disease, it can also increase inflammation throughout your whole body.

The mouth becomes a portal for bacteria that can cause inflammatory responses throughout the body that are associated with a variety of diseases. Specifically, your gut health is affected by P. Gingivalis because these pathogens can decrease gut barrier protections and can alter the bacterial balance within your gut.

Some common inflammatory diseases of the gut include:

Your Role in Oral Health

Good oral health is vital for maintaining balanced oral-gut health. Since oral hygiene is one of the easiest steps toward a healthier gut, you can begin to bring better balance by:

  • Brushing twice daily 
  • Flossing regularly
  • Limiting in-between meal snacking
  • Visiting your dentist on a regular basis
  • Refraining from tobacco products
  • Eating a healthy diet comprised of fresh veggies, fruits, and other whole, plant-based foods

The Gum Disease Factor

If you have been told that you have gum disease, your journey toward better gut health takes a bit more effort. Patients who have active gum disease are at higher risk of having more harmful oral pathogens traveling through their body and into their gut. But with help from your periodontist, you can begin to have a healthier oral balance and thus reduce risks of gut diseases.

Remember, oral health equals gut health! At the Pennsylvania Center for Periodontology, we want to help you keep your gums healthy for better oral and overall health! You can learn more about gum disease risks by visiting our Resource Page and contacting us to schedule an appointment for a full periodontal evaluation. 

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