Contrary to what you’ve been told, the goal isn’t to kill off all the germs in your mouth. In fact, just like the gut microbiome, there are good bacteria in your mouth that aid the health of your teeth and the rest of your body.
For millions of years, our resident microbes have coevolved and coexisted with us in a mostly harmonious symbiotic relationship. We are not distinct entities from our microbiome. Together we form a 'superorganism', with the microbiome playing a significant role in our physiology and health. When we nurture friendly bacteria we help them outcompete the harmful ones that cause disease.
Over 700 species of bacteria live in our mouth alone and a lot of that bacteria gets swallowed into our intestinal tract. A balanced oral microbiome can not only protect us from cavities and gum disease but can balance our gut microbiome as well, protecting our entire body from disease and inflammation.
What happens when the oral microbiome is disrupted?
Modern oral care has been aimed at killing bacteria and can disrupt this delicate balance leading to detrimental consequences for our general and oral health. If we don’t care for our oral microbiome the oral ecosystem becomes unbalanced, allowing disease-promoting bacteria to flourish and cause conditions such as caries, gingivitis and periodontitis.
Scientists and doctors have found that the danger doesn’t stop in the mouth. Microbiome inbalance contributes systemic diseases including gastrointestinal system diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, liver cirrhosis, pancreatic cancer, nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, endocrine system diseases like diabetes, adverse pregnancy outcomes, obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome, immune system diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and HIV infection, and cardiovascular system diseases like atherosclerosis.
Restoring balance to the oral microbiome
For practitioners and patients alike, promoting a balanced microbiome is important to effectively maintain or restore oral and whole body health. We need to shift from products that eliminate and harm microbiota to products that support the microbiome thus reducing oral and systemic diseases in the first place.