The stomach and mouth house the two largest microbiomes in our bodies. These are linked in a complicated relationship that contributes to your overall health. Here we look at how oral bacteria that cause periodontal disease and tooth decay, can also alter our gut microbiome. (1)

Oral Health And Gut Health

Our bodies contain healthy bacteria that assist in many different functions. Our gut health is tied to our gut microbiome, which consists of trillions of these microbes. However, oral microbiota is also found in the intestine and may be linked to many diseases. Recent studies show that our oral microbiota is related to our overall health and could be tied to systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, adverse pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease, and digestive diseases. (1,2,3)

Oral Microbiota Effect On Oral Health And Gut Health

Oral bacteria found in oral microbiota include Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Staphylococcus, and Lactobacillus. While these oral bacteria contribute to oral health issues such as gum disease and cavities, they also contribute to overall health issues. For example, recent studies found that oral-derived bacteria in the intestines can activate the intestinal immune system and lead to chronic inflammation. (3)

As well, P. ginigvalis associated with periodontal disease could alter the gut microbiome. It has been found to cause dysbiosis which is an imbalance in the microbial communities. When an imbalance is present it often occurs in health issues such as chronic inflammatory conditions, obesity, metabolic disorders, and cardiovascular disease. (3)

How Oral Microbiota Reaches The Digestive System

It is hard to imagine how oral microbiota can travel such great distances through the body. However, it can do so in three ways: (3)

  1. Invade the intestinal tract through the esophagus, leading to imbalances in the intestinal microecology, which in turn affects the digestive system. (4,5,6,7)
  2. Via periodontal blood entering the circulatory system, affecting the whole body. (7)
  3. Once in the bloodstream, the resulting low-grade inflammatory state can lead to chronic diseases of the digestive system. (8,9,10)

Although some studies need further research, these are the most likely scenarios in which the microbiota travels. (3)

Prebiotics Relation To Oral Health And Gut Health 

Prebiotics are found in many foods including yogurt. When we eat foods containing prebiotics, we know they help increase the healthy bacteria in our gut microbiome. But it turns out that when it comes to the oral microbiome, prebiotics might help to positively benefit it too, by stimulating the bacteria related to good oral health. For oral health, it is believed prebiotics are more effective when the prebiotic compounds can last longer in the mouth. For example, products such as Xylitol gum could offer time for fermentation to take place to help prevent cavities. With the ties between oral health and gut health, this opens up new study possibilities. (1)

There is so much more to discover including finding a way to alter oral microbiota to improve oral health and overall body health. (3)

If you would like to start eating a healthier diet to improve your microbiome, find free recipes online. 



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