If you think about it, the mouth is key to our heath. We talk, we chew, we swallow, we show emotions and smile. The mouth plays a big role in breathing, wellness, and airway function.
We need to pay attention to the mouth-body connection and understand that the mouth is a mirror of health or disease and an early indicator of disease in other tissues and organs in the body.
A number of diseases can manifest themselves in the mouth, tongue and gums. Periodontitis or gum disease is associated to premature delivery, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancers and strokes.
As a healthcare provider we look at the whole picture and become the health detective. During our initial patient visit, we take a comprehensive look at not just the teeth, but also the airway, TMJ, tongue and surrounding tissues and structures and collect a full health history to be able to treat our patients comprehensively.
The goal is to connect the dots and look at the source of the issue and find the root cause, rather than covering up the symptoms.
Microbes in the mouth are a significant contributor to the gut microbiome. You are swallowing one trillion bacteria each day, seeding your gastrointestinal tract with the microbes from your mouth. Data from the Human Microbiome Project showed that there was a 45% overlap in the microbes found in the mouth and in the colon.
The oral microbiome impacts the body in countless ways, which we are only now uncovering. Oral microbes have been implicated in cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and recurrent Helicobacter pylori infections. Good oral microbes contribute up to 25% of the nitric oxide levels in your blood, making it possible for blood vessels to relax and to lower blood pressure.
In fact a number of conditions have to be just right to prevent dysbiosis of the mouth: saliva flow, pH, low-sugar diet, brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings. This isn’t just to prevent cavities and periodontal disease.
Finally, we need a structurally fit mouth that can support the whole body to get enough oxygen. People can live about a month without food, a week without water and just a few minutes without oxygen. So, a reduced level of oxygen during sleep over a long period of time can have detrimental effects on the whole body.