The oral microbiome is in a constant state of flux as it responds to a regularly changing environment.
Just like good gut health is crucial for overall health, we now know that a balanced and healthy oral microbiome is also essential for good health. New research links an unhealthy oral microbiome with mental health issues and neuro inflammatory disorders.
While there are several influences affecting microbial balance, dietary choices are the most powerful predictors of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ oral health.
Interestingly, studies suggest that diet may have more significance on oral health than dental hygiene practices. Nonetheless, tooth brushing and flossing are proven to be effective, and are regarded as crucial lifestyle strategies in support of oral microbial health.
The impact of diet on oral pH
Research has also confirmed that the more frequently fermentable carbohydrates are consumed, the more detrimental their effects. This is attributed to there being less opportunity for saliva to correct pH, which it achieves by removing carbohydrates from the tooth surface and helping to remineralise the tooth. Predictably, acidic foods and beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juices, vinegar and dry wines are correlated with dental erosion due to their effects on salivary pH.
Sugar and demineralisation of teeth
The frequency and volume of dietary sugar consumed has the most profound impact on the development of oral dysbiosis. Each time sugar or refined carbohydrates are consumed, there is a degree of demineralisation of the dental enamel. Remineralisation occurs in the times between meals as saliva, which is rich in calcium, helps to repair the enamel and flushes away acids produced by dysbiotic bacterial fermentation. Irregular consumption of sugar allows time for the tooth to remineralise, however if sugar ingestion is frequent, repair cannot occur, and cavities develop
Recommendations to support oral microbial balance
While there are several strategies which may be implemented to cultivate healthier mouth microbes, the most consistent research findings can be summarised into the following critical recommendations:
A plant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet rich in omea-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals (e.g., the Mediterranean diet) is supportive of good oral health.
Take a probiotic containing Lactobacillus reuteri strains
Ensure optimal micronutrient levels – calcium, vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B complex nutrients.
Practice good oral hygiene – brush teeth twice daily and use floss or other interdental plaque removal device, tongue scraping.
Minimise the ingestion of highly acidic foods such as soft drinks, vinegar and dry wine.
Minimise/ avoid the ingestion of simple sugars.
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Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and also has a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Camberwell, and Australia-wide via Zoom. Book HERE
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