The Future of Oral Health

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Oral health supplies of the future: toothpaste, floss, mouth wash… and probiotics. 

Just like the gut, the mouth has a microbiome, and just like in the gut, that microbiome affects the whole body. Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, gave a presentation titled “Oral Health and Microbiome” at Nutri-Beauty: Mastering the Market in April, available on-demand at www.NaturallyInformed.net. “There’s 700 different species of bacteria that live in these oral subhabitats: the teeth, the tongue, gums, saliva, ear, nose, and throat,” Dr. Feldman said. “And it’s not just bacteria—we also have viruses, eukaryotes, and fungi.” And like the gut, Dr. Feldman added, “what happens in the mouth, does not stay in the mouth. 47.2% of American adults have gum disease, and adults over the age of 70 with gum disease are 70% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. People with gum disease are also more likely to have heart disease and to have a higher risk of stroke; periodontal disease may also be associated with autoimmune diseases.”

What is gum disease? It is, effectively, a microbiome imbalance. “A balanced microbiome is characterized by a healthy diet, plaque control, and good oral hygiene,” Dr. Feldman explained. “An imbalanced microbiome is characterized by a poor diet, inadequate plaque control, inadequate oral hygiene, and lifestyle risk factors, such as smoking.” That imbalance allows bad bacteria not only to enter the mouth and colonize the teeth, but also to secrete a slimy coating that allows it to build up and grow away from the teeth. This stage of development corresponds with gingival diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.

 

3 Routes to a Balanced Microbiome 

Fortunately, there are ways to maintain oral health and to keep the oral microbiome healthy. Three are outlined below:

1. Diet. According to the Oral Health Foundation (OHF), the two most harmful components of a diet are sugar and acid—and the reason why sugar is harmful, the OHF says, is because it interacts with bacteria to produce acids (1). Acid dissolves enamel, leaving the teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. However, “a diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruit and vegetables can help to prevent gum disease,” the OHF says. Another thing to note here: Every time a person eats, it disrupts the microbiome and pH of the oral cavity. Therefore, sticking to three meals a day is best. For snackers, a tip from Dr. Feldman: While fresh fruit is great, dried fruit is sticky and harder to get out of the teeth—in her presentation, she called it the “worst” snack to have. OHF points to savory foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, and nuts as better foods to snack on when necessary.

The OHF and Dr. Feldman both have one more recommendation in this area: drink lots of water. Keeping the mouth moist helps prevent bad bacteria from growing, helps the microbiome re-balance between meals, and helps maintain pH. Drinks like sodas often have a high sugar content and low pH; from an oral health perspective, water and milk are best (1).

2. Oral hygiene/plaque control. Brushing teeth at least twice per day and flossing regularly are vital for maintaining oral health, regardless of what products are used. However, there are some standout ingredients worth putting on your shelves. For instance, Spry brand oral care products contain xylitol, which has been shown to prevent bacterial adhesion to teeth and tissue, according to the brand’s website (2). It can also keep the mouth moist, which, as noted above, can be a big help. Spry offers toothpaste, gum, mints, oral rinse, and mouth moisturizers.

Another star ingredient: tea tree oil. Tea Tree Therapy sells a Whitening toothpaste, which contains a low abrasive cleanser and makes use of the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil.

There’s also charcoal products, such as those from My Magic Mud; the company’s tooth powder and toothpaste have been shown to significantly whiten teeth and help remove stains (3).

Flossers looking for a better product may be interested in drTungs’ Smart Floss, which, according to the company’s site, is clinically proven to remove 55% more plaque than most brands, while being free of PFAS and PTFE (4). The product is available in eco-friendly packaging.

The OHF also recommends using sugar-free chewing gum after a meal: “Chewing gum makes your mouth produce more saliva, which helps to cancel out the acid in your mouth after eating or drinking. It has been proven that using sugar-free chewing gum after meals can prevent tooth decay” (1).

3. Probiotics. Sometimes, it makes sense to provide direct support for the microbiome. Nena Dockery, Scientific and Regulatory Manager, Stratum Nutrition, says: “Probiotics that can colonize in the oral cavity, such as Streptococcus salivarius K12, and S. salivarius M18, are derived from human oral cavity strains and have been shown to be highly supportive of the oral cavity surfaces and upper respiratory tract. These unique probiotics, distributed by Stratum Nutrition as BLIS K12 and BLIS M18, have been shown to help promote the body’s own mechanisms of protection against pathogens that enter the body through the oral cavity. The use of indigenous strains such as these not only helps ensure the safety of supplementation but can also help support colonization and continual efficacy.”

At the end of the day, Dr. Feldman said in her presentation, the future is bright. The trend she’s seeing: oral care as part of a beauty regimen. Her hope is that this continues and oral health stops being a chore, but rather a way to beautify and keep healthy what she calls “the soul of the body”—the smile. WF

 

References

  1. “Diet and Oral Health,” Oral Health Foundation. Accessed 06/08/21. https://www.dentalhealth.org/diet-and-your-oral-health
  2. “Spry: Improving Oral Health Since Before Day 1,” Spry. Accessed 06/08/21. https://xlear.com/spry-dental-defense/
  3. Norman Horn, Ph.D., “Clinically Demonstrated Safety & Efficacy,” My Magic Mud. Accessed 06/08/21. https://mymagicmud.com/the-science/
  4. “Smart Floss Paperboard Pack,” drTungs. Accessed 06/09/21. https://drtungs.com/products/125-smart-floss-paperboard-pack.html