3 Strategies to Improve the Oral Microbiome

Oral Microbiome

In last month’s blog, What if the Real Cause of Cavities and Gum Disease is Incorrect, I introduced my belief in the necessity of exploring and acknowledging the oral microbiome as a key to really understanding and treating oral disease.  As I continue to research and learn, I have developed 3 key strategies to help my patients improve their oral microbiome:

  1. Don’t routinely use mouthwash
  2. Eat a minimum of grains and processed carbohydrates
  3. Consider oral Probiotic supplementation

1. Don’t Routinely Use Mouthwash

I have expressed my concerns about the use of mouthwash in previous blogs and suffice to say that I do not agree with the practice of using a product that kills 99.9% of germs.  Common sense dictates that we need good bacteria and we need them to specifically help with:

  • Synthesizing and excreting vitamins
  • Preventing colonization by pathogens (“bad bugs”)
  • Inhibiting or destroying pathogens
  • Stimulating tissue and antibody development

Certainly, there are instances where a mouthwash might be a necessity, but the need should be client-centered and temporary while the underlying causes of the specific problem are determined and healed.  It makes no sense to me to go in and bomb everything to kill the bad guys and then have to deal with the collateral damage!  Instead, would it not make more sense to provide an environment that supports the good bacteria so they dominate and push out the bad?

2. Eat a Minimum of Grains and Processed Carbohydrates

Continuing with the concept of a healthy environment to support healthy bacteria we need to address grains.  Grains are sugars, pure and simple!  I tell my patients that I often worry more about bread, pasta and cereals than I do actual sugar as an underlying cause of oral/sytemic disease.  Most of us know now just how bad sugar is, but how many of us recognize how dangerous all that “white stuff” is?

Last month’s blog pointed to the 2013 study by the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA that as our diets changed to mainly high-carbohydrate and processed foods, so did the composition of the bacteria in our mouths, and with it an associated increase in oral disease.

3. Consider Oral Probiotic Supplementation

The probiotic supplementation field is exploding as we begin to recognize from scientific study that we have messed sorely with Mother Nature.  We have not only depleted our microbe diversity but it is believed that their sheer numbers may be about ½ of what our ancestors enjoyed some 200 years ago.  Unfortunately, we still do not know and understand the full implications of this trend.

In a recent study by Stanford University School of Medicine, when mice with gut bacteria from a human were put on a low-fiber diet (aka processed), the diversity of their intestinal inhabitants plummeted. Four generations on a low-fiber diet caused irreversible losses….that is, they became extinct!

In an attempt to help my patients repopulate their oral microbiome with healthy oral bacteria I now carry Pro-Dental by Hyperbiotics; a probiotic formula designed for oral health.  The targeted oral probiotic strains include: S. salivarius K12, S. salivarius M18, L. reuteri and L. paracasei to effectively counter the indiscriminate effects of antibacterials and other lifestyle choices that can deplete the oral microbiome.

In fact, I now ask all of my patients to chew one of these probiotic tablets at the end of their continuing-care appointment to help repopulate the oral environment with good bacteria!

What steps to you take to improve your oral microbiome?

I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site or join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,

Kathleen

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