By: Janet Bliss
Not Scientifically Reviewed by Dr. Eeks
We’ve all heard of the gut microbiome at this point. It seems to be everywhere in the health and wellness space at the moment, with probiotic supplements being advertised to ‘boost your gut bacteria’.
Did you know that there is also an oral microbiome? The oral microbiome refers to all of the microorganisms (both good and bad) that reside in your mouth.
It’s thought that there are around 500 different microbial species that live in the human mouth, although this number varies from person to person. In total, there are billions of microorganisms living in your mouth right this second!
This might sound scary but the positive microbes in your mouth help you in a number of ways. Some of their roles include:
- Aiding digestion and metabolism, including nitrate metabolism
- Helping to break down foods into smaller pieces alongside saliva
- Helping to remineralize the teeth
- Fighting off infections by outnumbering the ‘bad’ microorganisms that can enter our mouths
- Reducing oxidative stress and keeping inflammation down
- Aiding the transportation of oxygen to the gums
When your oral microbiome is out of balance, it can increase the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. So, it’s extremely important that you do everything that you can to keep those microbes happy.
Here are some top tips to help you maintain a well-balanced oral microbiome alongside your yearly health checks with the dentist.
Taking probiotics of any form can significantly enhance tooth and gum health. There is a range of probiotic foods and supplements that you can consume to optimize your oral health.
Many probiotics can help to improve the health of your gut but you can also get oral-specific probiotics. No matter which probiotic supplement you choose, make sure it contains at least 3 billion CFUs (colony forming units).
The main difference between the gut and oral probiotics is the strains that they contain. Look out for probiotics that contain L. paracasei, Lactobacillus salivarius, L. reuteri, L. acidophilus, and Bifidobacillus.
Dental probiotics provide you with beneficial microorganisms that help to counteract any potentially harmful microbes in your mouth. You can also use probiotics toothpaste that contains active microorganisms that can balance the pH of your mouth to improve saliva quality.
Have a Great Oral Hygiene Practice
Regularly following an oral hygiene practice is essential to maintaining great mouth health.
Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, ensuring that you cover every surface of every two, your gums, and your tongue. This helps to keep plaque build-up to a minimum and brushes away potentially harmful microorganisms.
It’s important not to go overboard with your oral hygiene practice. Brushing too frequently or too harshly can cause damage to your teeth and gums, and may disrupt the balance of beneficial microorganisms in your mouth.
Consider using dental floss after brushing to remove the bacteria from in between the teeth. It is great to catch the areas where your toothbrush may have missed.