This is a huge topic, and oddly, one that I haven’t tackled before.
So, I am going to be dividing this into two separate articles.
Oral health is an extremely important factor in terms of our general health, yet, due to the nature of our health care system (there is no medicare coverage for dental care) – one would think that there is no connection at all between your mouth and the rest of your body. But this could not be further from the truth. Your teeth are an integral part of your health
Your GI tract begins at your mouth – this is where digestion begins: through chewing food (mechanically breaking it down) and your saliva (which contains an enzyme to further digest foods). You also have an oral microbiome, and the health of your oral microbiome determines gum and teeth health as well as the health of every major organ system in your body.
As with your gut microbiome, it is very easy to alter the balance from a state of health to one that produces inflammation and chronic illness.
There are hundreds of different species of bacteria in your mouth, and they remain pretty constant despite teeth brushing and flossing. Your beneficial oral bacteria help to maintain a more alkaline environment, kill off oral pathogens and even lower blood pressure – by converting nitrites in vegetables and fruit into nitric oxide. However, when you start to introduce sugary foods and drinks you start selecting for more pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans– which in turn create an acidic environment that starts to degrade enamel and causes tooth decay.
Another problem is over-the-counter mouthwashes that contain chemicals such as chlorhexidine – these chemicals destroy your beneficial microbes, altering the make-up of your oral microbiome, and shifting things to a more pathogenic picture with increased acidity and decay. Eliminating your good bacteria allows pathogenic bacteria to proliferate, and your overall health starts to decline. Pathogenic bacteria produce toxins which, along with these bacteria, travel all over your body – contributing to, or causing illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and joint inflammation.
Here is where things get a little bit controversial:
We have been told repeatedly that fluoridated water is that magical element that keeps out teeth strong and cavity-free. However, dental caries are not a result of a fluoride deficiency – but rather, as we have seen, they are a result of excess dietary sugars and refined foods. There is, in fact, no proof that fluoride benefits our teeth. In countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden, where they do not fluoridate their water, the incidence of tooth caries is lower than in countries, such as the US, that do have fluoridated water.
Fluoride is a toxic mineral that impacts your nervous system, cardiovascular health, endocrine system (glands and hormones), digestion, bones, and more. Excessive fluoride exposure results in fluorosis – a condition in which tooth enamel is damaged, which is evidenced as tooth discolouration (mottled white or brownish spots on the teeth). In the US, according to the CDC, 41 per cent of 12 – 15 year olds exhibit some degree of fluorosis. And, if your teeth are being impacted, you can bet that your bones are, as well as soft tissues.
Most toothpastes contain fluoride. Because, we are told, this is an important cavity fighter. However, fluoride is literally a poison. If you read the fine print on the toothpaste box, there is a warning against swallowing toothpaste, as it can result in fluoride poisoning and death. This is most concerning for young children, who might be tempted to consume that ‘bubble gum’ or other child-friendly flavoured toothpaste. And it does not take a lot of toothpaste to result in poisoning. In the US there are over 20,000 fluoride poisoning reports annually.
What are the main points here?
Your diet, and everything you put in your body, has an enormous impact on your oral health (oral microbiome) and your overall health. So, avoiding refined carbohydrates and sugary foods and drinks is step 1. But you also need to consider the toothpaste that you are using. Look for a ‘natural’ toothpaste that does not contain fluoride. Also look into your drinking water sources.
*Original article online at https://www.countyweeklynews.ca/opinion/columnists/the-importance-of-maintaining-oral-health