The gut microbiome gets a lot of attention as the hub of the body’s immune system.
After all, the gut microbiome houses a majority of the body’s microbes. Each of the body’s different microbiomes — the mouth, nose, ears, throat, stomach, skin, and vagina — are all directly influenced by the microbes that live in the gut.
However, did you know that the gut microbiome is deeply influenced by another microbiome?
Gateway To The Gut
For all microbes that enter the body the mouth is the primary entry point.
It should be no surprise that the mouth’s microbiome is rich and diverse — brimming with microbial life at all times.
It’s not just bacteria. Viruses and fungi are also present in the mouth and, quite often, pathogens like protozoa.
Each day, trillions of microbes are swallowed — directly influencing the microbial populations in the gut.
These oral microbes and pathogens can overwhelm a weak immune system and work to populate the gut with the wrong microbes.
The Entire Body
Left alone, unchecked microbes in the mouth can chronically activate the immune response — leading to system-wide inflammation in the body and even many systemic diseases:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Adverse pregnancy outcomes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Digestive diseases
- Alzheimer’s disease
The immune response to oral microbes is to destroy pathogens by creating acids that are much more damaging to the teeth (and fillings) than the pathogens’ own acids — leading to disastrous tooth decay.
The ongoing presence of stubborn pathogens in the mouth creates a toxic sequence of events that inflames the body, rots the teeth, and, ultimately, leads to disease. Microbes can enter the bloodstream via the gums and then travel all around the body, activating the immune system and causing inflammation.
A pernicious cycle develops over time as infection, inflammation, dental decay all lead to more and more of each other.
A Potential Weak Link
The teeth, themselves, can be fragile in youth as well as throughout the aging process. Teeth are especially vulnerable in chronic illness.
Dental plaque and the surface of the tongue are among the densest microbial habitats on Earth. Bacteria are pretty much wall to wall in there.https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/studying-mouth-bacteria-scientists-hope-learn-secrets-microbiomes-180973509/
Decaying, damaged, or poorly repaired or maintained teeth represent not only an opportunity for microbes to hide — but also to reside in and thrive.
When the body is weak, teeth can become both shelter and food for pathogens.
The Path Forward
To give the body its best chance for health, recovery, and longevity, it’s important for the following steps to occur:
When oral health has suffered, it’s important to protect and improve the mouth’s microbiome throughout the day.
It’s uncommon to fully clean one’s teeth after every meal.
However, in chronic illness and aging, it’s critical to do just that.
Of course, it isn’t always convenient to brush your teeth after each meal and snack. That’s where a small, travel-size bottle of tooth powder can be a gamechanger.
A quality tooth powder is, essentially, an all-natural toothpaste with solid ingredients including antimicrobial herbal extracts, Vitamin D, minerals, and even oral probiotics.
Rather than leaving the mouth coated with food particles — which feed and grow microbes — a good tooth powder refreshes, sanitizes, and repopulates, depressing microbial activity in the mouth and, in the case of this product, replenishing with a strain of beneficial bacteria.
It’s good to keep a bottle in the car, at work, and perhaps in a few places around the house (such as the kitchen), where having the ability to quickly clean the mouth might prove useful.
Swish for 1-5 minutes after each meal or snack.
Before bed, use multiple steps to thoroughly remove all lodged food, plaque, and microbial biofilms from the mouth.
The basic steps to a great evening routine:
An evening routine can be additionally be used in the morning, but not as a replacement for the evening.
Flossing removes trapped food particles and plaque in between the teeth. Floss first, then brush teeth. Be gentle on the gums while flossing — don’t overdo it.
Brushing further scrubs away microbial biofilms, plaque, and food particles. It’s important to scrub the tongue, gums, roof of the mouth and inside of the cheeks with the toothbrush.
Then brush with tooth powder or your favorite toothpaste.
Gum oil and mouthwash further discourage microbial activity throughout the mouth — giving the immune system a breather and making life hostile for opportunistic pathogens.
Look for essential oils, as well as xylitol or charcoal, as excellent ingredients in a good mouthwash.
After brushing the teeth, apply 1-2 drops of oil to the gums with your finger. Leave for a moment, then swish oils for 1-2 minutes to reach all surfaces of the mouth.
Some essential oils are renowned for improving dental health, as well as for having some therapeutic value in a dental crisis.
Many mouthwash products include questionable ingredients, such as carrageenan or glycerin, which are purported to counteract other positive effects of the product.
A Great Rinse.
Charcoal toothpaste is becoming extremely popular. It’s quite effective for polishing and removing stains on the teeth.
Charcoal has a strong negative charge, enabling it to remove plaque (which is positively-charged) from the negatively-charged teeth. Charcoal is antimicrobial.
Adsorptive properties enable charcoal to soak up anything it comes into contactg with in the mouth: endotoxins, tartar, and pathogens.
However, there is little evidence proving charcoal is safe for regular brushing. It’s reasonable to worry that prolonged use in toothpaste might erode enamel.
Therefore it’s most likely best to use charcoal only as a mouthwash — swishing after meals or at night during the evening routine.
Enhancing With Charcoal
I augment my routines with charcoal powder and other powders (especially neem).
I fill an empty TheraNeem Tooth Powder bottle half-way with charcoal powder and neem powder and sprinkle some in when I swish toothpowder after meals.
Thus, most days, I swish with charcoal/neem 3x/day — in conjunction with the tooth powder. I’ll then also use this charcoal/neem powder as a swish during my evening routine.
Only brush with charcoal once a week or so to limit its abrasive action on the enamel. Instead, use charcoal as a mouthwash, perhaps as an addition to tooth powder.
Powders to include in a charcoal rinse:
- Neem powder — antimicrobial, antioxidant
- Sea salt — antimicrobial, reduces acidity
- Xylitol — antimicrobial
- Erythritol — antimicrobial (more effective than xylitol)
If desired, Swish charcoal powder daily with tooth powder.
a Potential middle ground
Fluoride is most likely harmful to internal bodily tissues — potentially leading to calcification of joints and flesh among other problems including promoting the accumulation of heavy metals in humans and disruption of bird habitats around lakes.
On the other hand, fluoride is also incredibly antimicrobial against microbes in the mouth. Fluoride disrupts pathogens’ enzyme receptors and weakens microbes’ resistance to acids.
Is there a difference between drinking — ingesting — fluoride into the body (with its effects on the gut microbiome, joints and tissues), and applying it topically in the mouth?
After nearly a decade of personally avoiding fluoride in both drinking water and oral products, it might be a good idea to use a fluoride rinse 1-2x/week simply to boost hostility of the mouth toward pathogens.
Fluoride may not be a make-or-break ingredient. But it’s nice to have a safer way to benefit from it without incurring too much risk.
A glass of city water usually has about the same amount of fluoride as a small serving of fluoride toothpaste.
If Desired, swish 1-2x/week for 30 seconds to increase hostility against microbes in the mouth.
Ozone is rapidly becoming a component of alternative dentistry.
Dental ozone use has a good amount of preliminary research into its clinical efficacy. Consider this passage from a 2019 study:
“Healthy cells contain antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to protect against ozone oxidization. However, pathogens such as bacteria contain very trace amounts of antioxidants in their membranes, which make them susceptible to ozone and destroy the cell membrane. This review explores the history, composition, and use of ozone worldwide in dentistry. Ozone therapy has thus far been utilized with wound healing, dental caries, oral lichen planus, gingivitis and periodontitis, halitosis, osteonecrosis of the jaw, post-surgical pain, plaque and biofilms, root canals, dentin hypersensitivity, temporomandibular joint disorders, and teeth whitening. The utility of ozone will undoubtedly grow if studies continue to show positive outcomes in an increasing number of dental conditions.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6779001/
At the dentist’s office, several methods exist for applying ozone to the teeth and gums, but the most typical is insufflation where ozone gas is applied to the dental arch.
Ozone is also sometimes injected into cavitations — abscesses which can result from infected tooth extractions.
Ozonated water can be made in minutes with a specialized ozone generator.
Freshly prepared ozonated water showed a statistically significant reduction in [Mutans Streptococci] counts after an interval of 7 days and 14 days when compared to Chlorhexidine.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5583811/
The standard for killing most microbes is 0.3 ppm ozone with 3 minutes of exposure — although this standard varies based on the smoothness of a surface.
Swishing with ozonated water makes an excellent additional step in any evening routine.
Ozonate water for 3-5 minutes in a glass. Then, swish in the mouth for 2-3 minutes.
Oil pulling produces excellent results for some people but, like all oral health practices, consistency may be key.
Several studies point out that oil pulling does, in fact, have some antimicrobial properties.
“Their study observed 20% reduction in bacterial count upon 40 days of oil pulling using sesame oil. Also they observed reductions in the severity of dental caries.”
“The study observed 50% decreases in gingival and plaque indices after four weeks.”
“Oil pulling generates antioxidants which damage the cell wall of microorganisms and kill them.”
When oil mixes with saliva it emulsifies and produces some compounds with saponification properties — also known as soap.
Therefore, there’s no reason not to oil pull as often as is convenient, even if the toxin-removal effects are only limited (we really don’t know one way or the other).
Be sure to spit into a trash can instead of the sink.
Oil pulling can be augmented by including a drop of gum oil in the mixture.
This ozonated oil is fantastic for the mouth — it leaves the mouth feeling clean and fresh, even through the night.
The effects are most likely due to the presence of the essential oil and the ozone as much as the oil.
Swish olive oil or coconut oil for 5-10 minutes. Add essential oils (1-2 drops) to the mixture as desired.
It’s important to replace your toothbrush (or electric brush head) very frequently — every 2-3 months, maximum.
It doesn’t make sense to reduce pathogenic presence in the mouth, only to reintroduce it with each brushing.
Cleaning A Toothbrush
To reduce microbial life on your toothbrush, soak it once per week for about 10-20 minutes.
Toothbrush soaking solutions:
A toothbrush should still be replaced on time, even with regular weekly sterilization.
Clean toothbrush weekly. Replace Every few months.
The health of the mouth is an integral factor of both gut health and the function of the entire body.
Oral and dental health commonly suffers in chronic illness and aging.
In both scenarios, it is imperative to support the body’s immune system by continually improving the microbial health of the mouth — to keep it clean.
The steps for sustainably improving oral health:
Nutrients For Oral Health
The fat-soluble vitamins are vital to the health of the teeth and gums, as are Vitamin C.
Minerals are also foundational to the health of the teeth, and as with all nutrients, they must be in balance with each other as well.
It’s important to understand how to obtain these nutrients in a balanced and thoughtful way. Overnutrition and imbalance can be just as detrimental as nutrient deficiency.
Of course, dental professionals and regular checkups are entirely necessary to fix any broken teeth, dental fillings or prosthetics. Root canals present dead matter inside the mouth, which is prone to rotting — which is the presence of pathogens.
It’s not uncommon for microbes and pathogens to work their way inside existing dental work — which is another reason to diligently keep the mouth exceptionally clean.
Ask questions of your dental providers. Respectfully get a feel for their competence. Improperly installed dental work can lead to infectious issues down the road.
Finally, if you’re looking for a starter pack — this is an excellent brand to check out.