Gut Health has become the new health buzz and for good reason because, like Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
Getting your GI tract in tip top shape requires making adjustments to your diet and lifestyle to heal inflammation, repair any damage, and weed and feed your gut microbiome. This is done by:
- Eliminating added sugars and processed carbohydrates.
- Eating 8 – 10 servings of brightly colored vegetables daily - ROY G BIV.
- Eating at least 20 different plant foods each week.
- Improving digestion by eating calm meals, chewing thoroughly, and adding digestive supplements if needed.
- Including probiotic and prebiotic foods daily and, if needed, taking oral probiotic supplements.
- Significantly reducing alcohol intake.
- Getting adequate sleep.
- Reducing stress through moderate exercise, meditation and Biofeedback.
And, there is one extra component of gut health that is often overlooked. Your mouth is part of your GI tract. If your mouth is unhealthy, it negatively impacts your gut.
Mouth Inflammation = Gut Inflammation.
So, make sure your oral health is in good order to protect your gut microbiome.
Your Oral Microbiome
The mouth has its own microbiome that directly impacts your gut microbiome. Our mouths contain hundreds of bacteria. Like the gut microbiome, the mouth microbiome contains beneficial bacteria and unhealthy bacteria. Some of these unhealthy bacteria in our mouths can cause serious health consequences. If our mouths are not well cared for, the unhealthy bacteria can become overpopulated and then enter the bloodstream through bleeding gums or unhealthy gum tissue. These bacteria can also travel to the gut microbiome. These unhealthy bacteria can disrupt the gut as well as put us at risk for heart disease, stroke, and a myriad of other health consequences.
According to the CDC in 2012, 1 out of 2 adults living in the U.S. ages 30 years and older have periodontal disease or gum disease.1 And, many people do not know they have it. Where there is periodontal disease, there is usually an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. Periodontal disease includes bleeding gums, gingivitis, gum recession and bone loss.
If you have been diagnosed with bleeding gums, gum recession or any of these symptoms, consider this a sign of imbalance which is affecting not only your mouth but also your gut and the rest of your body.
These periodontal issues can be prevented and controlled with good oral hygiene that promotes a healthy mouth microbiome. Find a dentist who will help you reverse your gum disease before it gets to advanced stages.
8 Daily Steps for Optimal Oral Health
Nadine Artemis, author of Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, and holistic dentists recommend the following steps to ensure that your mouth and oral microbiome are in great shape. Though it may seem like a lot of steps, it only takes about 2 additional minutes each time you brush to get these steps done.
- Rinse your mouth before brushing to create an alkaline state. Make a brine using a 16 oz. mason jar filled with distilled warm water and 1 – 2 Tablespoons sea salt or baking soda. Swish with a mouthful of brine for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Scrape your tongue to remove bacteria. Use a tongue scraper or upside down teaspoon. Be gentle when scraping.
- Brush your gums with your manual toothbrush to stimulate the gum tissue. Brush in the direction your teeth are growing – Top gums brush down, bottom gums brush up.
- Polish your teeth using a round headed electric toothbrush and fluoride- and chemical-free toothpaste (see list below). Place your toothbrush at a 45° angle to your gum line while polishing.
- Floss with regular dental floss.
- Use a water flosser to flush out bacteria below the gum line. Hold the water flosser at a 45°angle to your gum line.
- Swish for 30 seconds with an alcohol-free, essential oil mouthwash – Do not use mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
- Special care – Give extra attention to areas that are inflamed.
The Best Oral Health Products
Conventional oral health products contain alcohol and other chemicals that are intended to control the unhealthy bacteria but unfortunately, they also create imbalances of the beneficial bacteria in our mouths. Holistic dentists believe in using oral health products and practices that protect and increase the beneficial bacteria while reducing the unhealthy bacteria. They believe that the same care you use for your gut microbiome should be applied to your mouth microbiome.
Here are a few fluoride-free, chemical-free toothpastes recommended by holistic dentists:
- Dental Herb Company Tooth and Gums Essential Toothpaste
- Bronner’s All-in-One Toothpaste
- Jason’s Toothpastes
Holistic Biological Dentists
If you are interested in finding a Holistic Biological Dentist to help you improve the health of your mouth and oral microbiome, check out the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology to find a holistic biological dentist near you trained in the safest dental practices.
If you want to know more about why holistic dentists recommend fluoride-free toothpastes, click here.
And, for those of you who dabble in essential oils, here is a recipe for a Remineralizing Toothpaste from essential oils expert, Eric Zielinski, from his book, The Healing Power of Essential Oils.3
- Journal of Dental Research, “Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States, 2009 and 2010”, 2012.
- American Dental Association, Mouth Healthy.
- Zielinski, E., “The Healing Power of Essential Oils”, 2018.
- Holistic Oral Health Summit, March 2018.
- International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, 2018.
⅓ cup Bentonite Clay Powder
¼ cup hot water
¼-½ 1 teaspoon Pure Stevia Extract (not Xylitol) – optional
¼ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil - melted
20 – 30 drops essential oils (see recommended combinations below.)
- Mix the Bentonite clay powder and hot water.
- Add the stevia, salt, coconut oil and essential oils.
- Blend until thoroughly mixed.
- Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. (Do not store in plastic.)
Essential Oil combinations for toothpaste:
- Lemon, Lime and Grapefruit
- Orange, Clove and Peppermint
- Cinnamon, Clove and Orange
- Roman Chamomile and Wintergreen
- Tea Tree and Lemon
- Frankincense and Myrrh