The Mouth-Gut Connection: How Your Oral Microbiome Affects Your Overall Health
You may not realize it, but the health of your mouth has a direct impact on your gut health. In fact, recent studies have shown that there is a strong connection between the two. This is due to the fact that your oral microbiome—the collection of microbes that live in your mouth—can affect the composition of your gut microbiome, which can in turn impact your overall health. Here's a closer look at the mouth-gut connection and how it can impact your health.
The Mouth-Gut Connection
Your gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These microorganisms play a crucial role in maintaining your health by helping to digest food, absorb nutrients, and protect you from infection. Your oral microbiome also plays an important role in your overall health. In fact, research has shown that the mouth is home to over 700 different species of bacteria!
While some of these bacteria are harmful, many are actually beneficial. For example, certain strains of bacteria can help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. However, when the balance of bacteria in your mouth is disrupted, it can lead to problems like cavities or gingivitis. This is why it's so important to take good care of your oral health.
How Your Oral Microbiome Affects Your Gut Health
Your oral microbiome can affect your gut health in several ways. First, the act of chewing breaks down food and allows bacteria from your mouth to enter your digestive tract. Second, harmful bacteria from your mouth can spread to other parts of your body through either direct contact (such as kissing) or indirect contact (such as sharing utensils). Finally, research has shown that the composition of your oral microbiome can influence the composition of your gut microbiome.
One way that researchers think this occurs is through something called " dysbiosis." Dysbiosis is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in a particular area of the body. When dysbiosis occurs in the gut, it's often associated with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, dysbiosis can also occur in the mouth, and studies have shown that this can lead to changes in the gut microbiome as well. In one study , researchers found that individuals with periodontitis—a form of gum disease—had a higher abundance of harmful bacteria in their guts than those without periodontitis. This suggests that oral dysbiosis may play a role in gut dysbiosis and subsequent gastrointestinal disorders.
The connection between oral and gut health is clear; what's less clear is exactly how this connection works. However, one thing is for sure: taking care of your oral health is essential for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome—and a healthy body overall. So brush and floss regularly, see your dentist for regular checkups, and don't forget to take care of those pearly whites!