In honor of National Smile Week coming up (August 8-15), we thought it would be the perfect time to talk about all things Oral Health!
Did you know that many gut issues can actually show up in your mouth? These symptoms can actually come about prior to intestinal signs or in conjunction with other indications. They could be a result of a disease or produced by a secondary effect. The three main things to be aware of when talking about oral health are tongue color, breath smell, and whether your teeth and gums are healthy (cavities/bleeding gums).
Health diagnoses by tongue have long been a practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine as your tongue is considered to be a good representation of your overall health. This is especially the case with tongue color. One study found that tongue color had a disease diagnosis rate of 92 percent! With all of that being said, what should you look for? Everyones tongue will look slightly different, however a "typical" healthy tongue is pink with a thin (not thick!!) white layer and covered in papillae, small nodules on the surface of the tongue that have a rough texture. Others colors such as red (not dark pink), purple, grey, yellow, and white could all be indications of an underlying health issue. Abnormal color changes over long periods of time could point to a health concern. Oral symptoms can be a significant factor in pointing a clinician toward a positive GI diagnosis and prompt them to further investigate the GI tract for possible distress. In some cases, oral signs may appear in the absence of obvious intestinal abnormalities.
In some cases, bad breath can be related to poor dental hygiene (obviously), but in other cases it could have a surprising underlying cause such as dieting, medications, GI issues, and other metabolic diseases. Not sure if you have bad breath? Ask a close friend or family member for their opinion or if you prefer to check it solo, lick the back of your hand, let it dry and give it a quick sniff. If it doesn't smell too fresh, this could be an indication that you have bad breath.
Cavities and gum health can also be a signal for underlying gut issues. Bleeding gums are a sign that there is unrest and inflammation further along in the digestive system. The connection begins with your gut’s role in controlling the immune system. When the immune system is "hyperactive" or inflamed, it overreacts to its surroundings. Bleeding gums is one of the first signs of potential digestive disease processes. The autoimmune response begins in the digestive system. However, specific auto-immune conditions can present in the mouth. For example, for 8-29% of patients with Crohn’s Disease, cavities can appear before any intestinal complications. Gum problems, such as swollen or bleeding gums, can be another complication of Crohn’s and may be the result of poor nutrition.
With all of that said, let's take a look at what we can do to rebalance the biome to prevent these oral health issues. First thing's first, get rid of toxins! Here how to do it:
1. Take probiotics! The best prevention for gut issues (that in turn can wreak havoc on your oral health as well!) is taking probiotics! Many gut issues come from not having the good "gut bugs" as we like to call them. A great way to make sure that you have the good guys is to take probiotics. Our favorite and most trusted brands are TerraFlora, RestorFlora, and Seed. When looking for a probiotic it is important that you look for spore based, shelf stable options. The reason for this is that if the probiotics aren't shelf stable it is very unlikely that they will survive once they get to your gut to actually do their job.
2. Tooth Paste! Throw out your fluoride filled brands! Fluoride is great at doing its job, which is to kill bacteria. However, while it does a great job at killing the bad bacteria, it also kills the good bacteria. Our favorite brands are Revitin, Himalaya, and Schmidts. It is important to read the ingredient list and be aware of what you are using! For example, some brands toss out the fluoride but replace it with essential oils that are too harsh and can also kill the good bacteria in your mouth. Be a smart consumer and if you ever have questions, shoot us an email!
3. Mouth Wash! For this we recommend oil pulling! Oil pulling works to kill the harmful bacteria in your mouth while keeping the good bacteria alive and well. This works to promote healthy oral hygiene and prevent some conditions such as bad breath, cavities, and gum inflammation and bleeding. (ding ding!! I think we have a winner!) Oil pulling is super easy and just take a few steps. Get a tablespoon of oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, or sesame oil and swish it in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Spit the oil into the trash as to avoid buildup in your sink or toilet which could lead to clogging. Rinse your mouth with water and go on with your day! If you've never tried oil pulling before, we recommend starting with 5 mins and working your way up to 15-20 mins. Start with a few days a week and work up to incorporating it into your daily routine. For best results, we recommend doing your practice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, but of course, anytime is better than never. *Be cautious and ask your holistic dentist if you have silver fillings as it may cause toxins to draw out of the fillings over time. Check out this video from our Medical Advisory Board member, Dr. Jockers, all about Oil Pulling.
4. Make informed decisions about your health! Below we have listed a few of our favorite documentaries, summits, and resources for all of your oral health questions.
Heal Your Mouth. Heal Your Body. https://secure.gatewaytohealthseries.com/
Health Talks Online - Holistic Oral Health Summit
Find a dentist near you! - International Academy of Biological Dentistry