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Oral Hygiene & Digestion: Are They Connected?

Brush, brush, brush your teeth — I think we’ve all grown up with multiple versions of this nursery rhyme that told us that brushing our teeth was a golden rule, one of the many Holy Grails of personal hygiene that couldn’t be missed. Doing it repeatedly, for so many years, it has now become second nature to all of us (or at least we hope!). The consequences of poor oral hygiene are often connected to bad breath, plaque-filled teeth, cavities, and all things related to the mouth — but did you know it also has a very strong connection to our digestive health too?

The  gut is the linchpin to the way our system functions and is therefore connected to pretty much every part of our body, including our mouth. As a matter of fact, oral hygiene and gut health share a very special relationship — poor mouth health equals poor gut, poor gut health equals poor mouth health — they’re two peas in a pod.

Their Love Story 👭

Let’s understand the basics of this connection and break it down for you. Our mouth and gut both have a microbiome of their own. This microbiome plays a significant role in how each of the two functions, and like always the good bacteria needs to outweigh the bad for a healthy and balanced environment. 

Now, think of your mouth as a bouncer standing outside a nightclub aka your gut. It filters out the harmless party goers from the harmful ruckus creators, and maintains a decent crowd within the nightclub. Similarly, when you swallow something, you also swallow thousands of bacteria — some bad, mostly good. Now, if your mouth has an overdose of bad bacteria, how can it act like a responsible bouncer and keep it away from the gut? The gut then has to face the consequences.

To simplify things, the bad bacteria in your mouth triggers issues like gum disease or cavities. This bacteria then travels into your digestive tract and the rest of your body, only to disrupt its respective microbiome, resulting in more internal trouble. Basically, the next time you have gastrointestinal issues, don’t just blame the poor stomach but actually look into whether you are cleaning your mouth right. As a matter of fact, studies have found a strong connection between oral diseases and systemic diseases — which means, your damaged gums could actually be a trigger for scarier conditions! Freaky, right?

Now here’s where the gut pulls an Uno reverse card on your mouth. A compromised digestive tract often triggers a poor immune system. A poor immune system results in more diseases that even show up in your mouth, amongst other places. See, it’s a vicious cycle that kind of messes up your entire body’s health!

The Damage 

  • Bad breath
  • Eroded enamel
  • Ulcers
  • Indigestion

But, it’s not just about brushing…

While oral hygiene is absolutely essential (brushing + flossing AM + PM, visit to the dentist twice a year), it is one of the two things one should do to maintain good oral and digestive health. What you put in your mouth, makes a whirlwind of a difference to how your digestive tract behaves. This means, watch what you eat. Processed foods and high sugar doesn’t just result in cavities, but also tip the range of the microbiomes present in your mouth, which eventually leads to many problems. 

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Bid farewell to highly processed foods that contain preservatives and added artificial flavours
  • Consume more probiotics, as well as fermented foods that’ll restore balance
  • Limit your intake of refined sugar as much as possible
  • Veggies and fruits are your BFFs
  • Go for fibre-rich foods
  • Chew your food properly

Evidently, the mouth and gut have a long-standing equation that cannot be ignored. So, the next time you skip your PM brush and floss or binge eat a whole box of donuts, don’t just think about your teeth, think about your stomach too!

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