What comes to mind when you think of your oral health? I imagine for most of you, your digestion does not come to mind, which is why I’m so passionate about teaching others about the intricate connection between the two!
We are taught that our oral health and hygiene is independent of our digestive health and don’t impact each other, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In the lens of functional health, everything is interconnected, so when we look at function and dysfunction in the body, we can’t ignore what’s going on in the mouth as an indicator of what’s happening in the digestive tract and vice versa. Whether it’s digestive symptoms such as cramping and bloating, or oral health symptoms such as cavities, infections, or abscesses, they often go hand-in-hand.
If you think about it, whatever is going on in your mouth can get swallowed and passed along to your digestive tract, so if you have an unhealthy oral microbiome (bad bacteria in your mouth), you can end up with an unhealthy gut microbiome (bad bacteria in the gut), or the other way around.
So, if you’ve been working on your gut health for a while and are still having issues OR have a history of chronic infection in the gut and haven’t addressed your oral health besides yearly dental cleanings, then it’s time you looked into it as it’s likely a contributor!
Interestingly enough, the Weston A. Price Foundation did studies with healthy indigenous and non-industrialized populations to further understand this connection. They found that they had great oral hygiene despite having access to all the modern advancements in oral care. They looked into their diets to help them better understand what foods supported an optimal oral microbiome across centuries and found that because they eat a diet much more aligned with nature and the fact that they aren’t exposed to the level of chemicals we as an industrialized nation are, their oral microbiome and health and gut microbiome and health was far better than ours, despite the billions of dollars we spend on oral care as a country each year.
I experienced first-hand the mouth-gut connection, which initially piqued my interest in this topic. My oral health issues came at the height of my ulcerative colitis flares, causing me to get multiple fillings and gum grafts (these were NOT fun). They subsided as quickly as they came on once I healed my gut, and my oral health has been excellent ever since because I implement all three of the tips I’ll be covering in this post.
So without further ado, here are some tried and true ways to boost your oral health that will have a positive effect on your gut health, too
Lil’ disclaimer: Even if you don’t feel like you have an infection or serious issue in your mouth, the tips I’m sharing here are tips anyone can benefit from. Especially if you’re doing any detoxing of the gut, it’s important to also detox the mouth as the microbes travel throughout the whole body.
Ever wake up and see a white-ish film on your tongue? Or perhaps you’ve accumulated a thicker yellowish coating that seems to just be getting worse. This is bacteria and yeast. Tongue scraping is one way to begin to address it.
Why are bad microbes and toxins sitting on your tongue? You see, while we sleep, our bodies go through the biggest detox process of the day, and one way the body eliminates them is via the tongue. Hence why you often will see a film or a coating on your tongue when you wake up. This is the accumulation of toxins that your body has processed throughout the night. To be clear, this is totally normal to see this film or coating and depending on if there is something deeper going on with your gut health such as candida, etc., there may be an even thicker film. Either way, we want to help our body remove what we can, and tongue scraping can do that!
When you tongue scrape, you use a specifically designed metal tool to gently scrape your tongue from back to front to remove the layer of bacteria and other toxins sitting on top. This ensures that bad bacteria is not reabsorbed back into the body.
From a detox perspective, this is one of the key ways to help your body with that process. If your body is handling a lot of toxins, whether it’s from pathogens, food, or things in your environment, the toxic load can be high enough that your body can’t keep up. In fact, our bodies are exposed to far more toxins each day than our bodies were ever meant to handle, so it’s never been more important to help it out by doing things such as tongue scraping.
If you don’t remove the film from your mouth, it reabsorbs into the body, which can create an even more toxic state and add more stress to the body. Tongue scraping is an incredibly easy way to help alleviate the body and begin cleaning up the oral microbiome.
Oil pulling is another powerful and easy way to help detox the mouth and rebalance the oral microbiome. It’s the act of swishing pure coconut oil in your mouth, especially working it in between your teeth where you would regularly floss and where bacteria can live. Coconut oil is particularly effective for oil pulling as opposed to other oils because it has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Using coconut oil helps to rid our body of microbes in the mouth. Just like tongue scraping, this can help to ensure we don’t reabsorb the microbes back into our bodies.
Take anywhere from 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil. If it’s solid, mixing it with your saliva will liquify it within 10-15 seconds. Methodically move the oil from the back to the front of your teeth, covering all sides while purposefully doing your best to push the oil in between the teeth where extra bacteria can live.
It’s recommended to do it for a full 20 minutes, but if you’re just getting started, go ahead and start with 5 minutes and work your way up. You can do this while you’re in the shower, getting ready in the morning, or reading a book in the evening.
Once you’ve finished, spit it out in a cup or in the trash and rinse your mouth out with water. Brush your teeth to remove any residual oil or microbes that have been dislodged during the oil pulling process. This can also be done in conjunction with tongue scraping (tongue scrape before) to create a nice oral hygiene routine for yourself!
Unfortunately, and despite all the convincing advertising, the majority of conventional toothpaste brands are loaded with sugar and fillers. Sugar in toothpaste can proliferate the growth of bad microbes in the mouth (causing an unhealthy oral microbiome), and therefore, in the gut. While there are other reasons to be on high alert regarding conventional toothpaste, just this reason alone is substantial. Furthermore, although it may be claiming to whiten the teeth or remove plaque, the formulas often aren’t sufficient enough to remove the microbes in the mouth.
Why is that? Because most microbes in the body hide behind something called biofilms.
The importance of understanding and working with the concept of biofilms is something we cover extensively in the Love Your Gut program because they are very much involved in chronic gut infections! Therefore, addressing them is a key part of the healing process.
What on earth are biofilms?
Biofilms are a protective mechanism for the bad bacteria in our bodies, including in our mouth. They act as a shield, which makes it very hard for toothpaste and these conventional formulas to actually penetrate the oral microbiome due to this protective layer. Fascinating enough, this shield can deflect immune cells, antibiotics, and your toothpaste! Since 99% of toothpaste formulas are not designed to get past the biofilms, they also can’t successfully remove the bacteria in the mouth, or the GI tract for that matter.
A few years ago, I came across a toothpaste that was designed to do exactly this: disintegrate the biofilms and address the microbes.
After experiencing promising results, I now recommend this toothpaste to all my clients and Love Your Gut program members as it’s a perfect complement to the work they’re already doing. Also, it’s the same brand as many of the other herbal supplements I use for naturally rebalancing the microbiome and therefore is very synergistic with their concurrent treatment plan.
To start, if you have chronic oral health issues or are simply curious what’s really going on in your mouth, consider seeing a biological dentist. Biological dentists look at the mouth in the same way I look at the gut, as an integrative part of the whole body. When you find one, tell them if you have any gut health issues and let them know you’re curious about how the two may be related! They can often take cultures that conventional dentists do not regularly do.
And because oral microbiome health is such an integral part of the gut healing journey, I can help you to address the connection between the mouth and gut in the Love Your Gut program where we look at the food and lifestyle components of the gut healing journey, as well as run functional lab tests to identify what pathogens may be in the body and other key digestive health markers.
Love Your Gut is a unique fusion of my 1-1 coaching and group program meaning you get a LOT of 1-1 support to help you reach and maintain your health desires.
I hope these tips inspire and motivate you to not only feel more empowered about your oral microbiome health but take these effective action steps to support your gut healing!
Kristin Thomas is a health coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner specialized in helping women with hormone, digestion, and autoimmune health concerns. Having gone through these health challenges herself, she now helps clients find their own path to complete wellness through practical and natural diet and lifestyle changes.
SEND FREE RECIPES!
Get a Copy of My Free
Do you worry that you're eating the wrong foods? While certain foods are fantastic for gut health, others can be extremely damaging. Do you know the difference? This FREE guide contains recipes loaded with gut-healing foods so that you'll know exactly what you can eat to feel your best.
SEND ME THE RECIPES!
My free 20-meal recipe guide will help you understand how to fuel your body for vibrant digestion so you can fall in love with food again and heal your body naturally.
© Copyright 2018 - Thrive by Food | DESIGN BY THEBRANDPARTY.COM