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Dental Care | May 31, 2024 | 3 min read

Digestive Beginnings: Oral Health’s Influence on Gut Wellness

Essential Takeaways

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth daily can positively impact your gut health. Research shows a connection between gum disease and gut bacteria imbalance, potentially affecting digestion and immune function. Taking care of your mouth contributes to overall health.

The gut houses the immune system, and more than ever, people around the world are critically focused on improving their gut health as a way to improve their overall health and quality of life. But did you know how you care for your teeth and gums can directly impact your gut microbiome? 

In this post, we unpack the link between the gut and mouth (or, what some of the medical community refer to as the gum-gut axis) and how you can improve your gut health through oral care. 

Mouth-gut connection study results

The body of research that shows the link between the gut and the mouth is ever-growing; before we dive into the implications of this connection, consider these findings and insights:

The bidirectional gut-mouth relationship

It might seem obvious that there’s a deep connection between the mouth and the gut; the mouth is, afterall, part of the gastrointestinal system and the gateway to the stomach, small intestines, and large intestines — the home for the gut microbiome. 

These organs play critical roles in the body’s daily functions and a person’s overall immune health and are responsible for digestion, detoxification, protection against harmful pathogens, and immune system regulation. Disturbances in the mouth can have lasting consequences on the overall performance of the gastrointestinal system as a whole. 

Gum disease is linked to immune and metabolic imbalance

P. gingivalis, the bacteria known to cause periodontitis (gum disease), is commonly associated with dysbiosis; studies on both animals and humans have shown that this bacteria influences the gut microbiota (the bacteria, both healthy and unhealthy, that live in the gut). 

Dysbiosis occurs when the gut microbiome is out of balance, particularly when there’s more proinflammatory bacteria than normal. Dysbiosis can trigger a host of chronic conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and metabolic imbalances. When left unaddressed, dysbiosis can also disrupt healthy immune function.

Even scarier, 47.2% of Americans 30 and older have some form of gum disease, putting millions of people at higher risk of developing these conditions.

The role of saliva in bacteria transportation

Saliva plays a critical role in oral health; it heals infections and wounds in the mouth, helps prevent gum disease, neutralizes harmful acids, and prevents bad breath. It also transports bacteria from the mouth to the gut — and not always the good kind of bacteria. 

One study found that gum disease can induce a gut microbiome imbalance by way of saliva as microbes in the saliva colonize the intestines through swallowing. Harmful bacteria are also known to cause gut inflammation through swallowing saliva.

Oral health is gut health and immune defense

This rapidly growing collection of research (and dozens of other studies) have exposed the connection between the mouth and the gut. While the medical community continues to study the interwoven connections within the gastrointestinal system, one thing is clear — caring for your oral health can support your immune function and gut health. Daily brushing and flossing, as well as routine dental exams, can help support immune function, digestion, and overall whole-body wellness.

Turn habits into rituals

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Meet the Author

Kenny Brown

We founded Feno to revolutionize dental care, understanding the vital connection between oral and overall health. Our tech driven products offer more than superb cleaning—they give you routine & insightful health monitoring to help improve your overall health.

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