The Importance of Your Oral Microbiome

oral microbiome

With all the research surrounding the gut microbiome, you may have overlooked the importance of your oral microbiome.

The oral microbiome is one of the most complex microbial populations in your body, housing a whopping 700 different kinds of microorganisms. 1 Science is beginning to uncover why keeping your oral microbiome healthy may support the health and wellness of other regions of your body.

What is the oral microbiome?

The oral microbiome is a vast community of diverse microorganisms found within your mouth. While numerous microorganisms exist there, including fungi and viruses, the most prominent is bacteria.

Sounds a little unsettling, right? The good news is that much of the bacteria in your mouth is not only harmless but may even be vital to your health by providing balance within your body. By contrast, some of the bacteria in your mouth can be harmful and may contribute to the buildup of plaque and cavities among other oral health issues.

Oral hygiene is an important factor in helping to support a balance between the ‘healthy bacteria’ and ‘harmful bacteria’ in your mouth. 

Importance of the oral microbiome beyond the oral cavity

The microbial community within your mouth plays many roles to help enhance the health of your oral cavity.

For example, when healthy, your oral microbiome can help protect your mouth from disease by providing antibodies. Additionally, a healthy microbiome will help to transport oxygen to your gums, remove waste from the surfaces of your mouth, and help remineralize tooth enamel. 

Consequently, having a healthy oral microbiome may be the key to oral health. 

However, the importance of the oral microbiome reaches far beyond that of your mouth. In fact, having a healthy oral microbiome may help promote the health and well-being of every other system connected to your mouth. 

For example, emerging research suggests that having a healthy microbiome may help protect the health of your brain. 2 Additionally, supporting your oral microbiome may also help support the health of your heart according to one 2015 study. 3 Moreover, recent studies are suggesting that a healthy oral microbiome may also help support the strength of your bones. 4 

How to support a healthy oral microbiome

You may think of the oral microbiome as a miniature immune system that resides in your mouth. Therefore, much like the gut microbiome, when well-cared for, it may help support a healthy mouth and body.

The following are steps you can take to help improve the health of your oral microbiome:

Increase your intake of microbiome-supporting foods.

To ensure your salivary flow is rich in essential nutrients and microorganisms, choose foods that are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables, fermented foods, like yogurt, and whole grains may help promote healthy bacteria in the microbiome which can lead to a more balanced oral environment. 

Reduce your intake of sugar

Sugary foods and drinks can wreak havoc on your oral health. A high sugar diet may cause an imbalance in your oral bacteria which can contribute to cavities and other dental concerns. 

Consider using an oral probiotic

Oral probiotics, also known as dental probiotics, contain strains of bacteria specifically designed to support a healthy oral microbiome. Research suggests that taking a daily oral probiotic supplement may help support your oral health by preventing bad breath and protecting gum health. 5

Your mouth acts as the gatekeeper for the rest of your body. When in a healthy and balanced state, your oral microbiome can support your oral health as well as the health of your whole body.  

You can help achieve balance within the oral microbiome by increasing your intake of microbiome-supporting foods and limiting your intake of sugary foods.

Through recent research, we have just started to reveal the complexities of the oral microbiome and have gained new insights into its role in supporting health and wellbeing.

Resources:

  1. Lu, M., Xuan, S., & Wang, Z. (2019). Food Science and Human Wellness, 8(1), 8–15. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2018.12.001

  2. Maitre, Y., Micheneau, P., Delpierre, A., Mahalli, R., Guerin, M., Amador, G., & Denis, F. (2020). Journal of Clinical Medicine, 9(12), 3876. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9123876

  3. El Kholy, K., Genco, R., & Van Dyke, T. (2015).  Oral Infections and Cardiovascular Disease, 35–44. https://doi.org/10.2174/978160805232511101010035

  4. Contaldo, M., Itro, A., Lajolo, C., Gioco, G., Inchingolo, F., & Serpico, R. (2020). Applied Sciences, 10(17), 6000. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10176000

  5. Chugh, P., Dutt, R., Sharma, A., Bhagat, N., & Dhar, M. S. (2020). Journal of Functional Foods, 70, 103985. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jff.2020.103985