Optimize Your Oral Health to Boost Your Overall Wellness
Written by Matthew Gines, MS, CNS
Nutritional Consultant – Palisades Center • West Nyack, New York
Matthew Gines holds a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition from The University of Bridgeport. He has over 15 years’ experience working with clients on developing and implementing lifestyle protocols, including healthy eating, stress management and detoxification. He has also obtained a PN Level 1 Exercise and Nutrition Certification and has extensive knowledge on supplements and healthy lifestyle coaching, as well as behavior modification. Recently, Matthew has qualified as a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Through motivational and accountability techniques, as well as focusing on prevention of chronic disease, Matthew is confident he can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.
Email Matthew: MGines@invitehealth.com
We are all familiar with a dentist’s instructions to brush and floss regularly for a healthy smile. However, oral health goes much deeper than just a nice set of “pearly whites”. Recent research published in the journal Public Health Reports has shown that there are links between chronic oral infections and heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, stroke and low birth weight and premature births. Oral health reflects the health of our mouth and ultimately supports and reflects our overall health of our entire body.
Deeper Than Your Gums
Just as the case is with most of the chronic diseases we as Americans face, cavities and gum disease (the two biggest threats to oral health) are largely preventable. Cavities are the biggest threat to children. It is five times as common as asthma and seven times as common as hay fever. Among adult Americans, the most common cause for poor oral health and tooth loss is untreated gum disease. It has been reported that fifty-three million adults are living with untreated tooth decay. It has also been reported that one-quarter of adults 65 and older have completely lost all of their teeth because of untreated gum disease, according to Public Health Reports.†
We do understand much more about oral health being associated with overall health. Signs and symptoms like sore, bleeding gums, cavities and other dental issues can indicate much deeper health issues related to deficiencies and inflammatory conditions. For example, low vitamin A and D and low calcium levels may increase the risk for dental cavities. Low vitamin C levels will increase the risk of developing bleeding gums and gum disease, according research published in the journal Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology.†
A Healthy Diet for Oral Health
We know that a healthy, balanced diet of whole foods will deliver the vitamins and minerals your body needs for good oral health and overall health. Teeth are made up of mineral and therefore require minerals to maintain good health. In fact, a lack of minerals will most likely cause demineralization of the teeth which can cause cavities. We also know that there are specific bacteria that inhabit the mouth.†
Balancing Your Oral Bacteria with Probiotics
You are probably pretty familiar with Probiotics and gut health, but there is also very significant evidence which points to their role in oral health. Probiotics or “friendly bacteria” outnumber our human cells 2-to-1. This gives us a picture of just how important these single-celled organisms are to human health. Probiotics are associated with decreased numbers of harmful or disease-causing pathogens, such as the type that cause gum disease. Probiotics also modulate the inflammatory response and produce things like lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and antimicrobial agents produced by lactic acid bacteria, according to research published by researchers from the School of Dentistry at the University of Barcelona in Spain.†
Most studies have looked at the competition of bacteria for adhesion surface area and nutrients. Whoever gets fed the most will win. This is why a healthy diet is so important. You’re either feeding the good bacteria or the bad. Bacterial influences are the leading cause of cavities, so naturally it is hypothesized that the intervention most effective for prevention is to introduce the right Probiotics.†
Research has shown strong evidence that specific pathogenic bacteria of the oral cavity play a role in the development of diseases such as diabetes, respiratory and heart disease. This clinical study published in Dentistry Journal presented results which demonstrated the positive effects of the regular eating of probiotic yogurt on reducing the numbers of cavity-causing streptococci in the oral cavity in both saliva and dental plaque. Further studies done on gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis showed the ability of certain probiotic lactobacilli – a specific type of probiotic bacterial strain - to combat the pathogenic bacteria.†
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research has shown that eating a whole food diet loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is better for oral health. A recent study published online in StatPearls found that eating too many simple-sugar carbohydrates was associated with a higher risk for developing cavities. Also, when it comes to being proactive about your oral health, you should definitely mind your healthy fats! A study published in The Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology showed that a deficiency in essential fatty acids like Omega-3s meant you could be at a higher risk for inflammatory and degenerative diseases of the mouth.†
Whole foods like vegetables and fruits contain protective properties like antioxidants and friendly bacteria and also require more chewing, which stimulates salivary glands containing healthy enzymes to break down food more effectively thereby decreasing the risk of forming cavities.†
Black, white and green tea extracts increases the concentration of fluoride in the plaque and seems to reduces the risk of forming cavities with a diet higher in simple sugars according to research. These teas also contain tannins, flavonoids and catechin which all protect the health of your mouth. The most researched catechin in tea called EGCG or Epigallocatechin gallate, has been shown to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.†
When it comes to nutrition and oral health, I suggest eating more whole, minimally-processed foods, fewer high-sugar and processed foods, eating more fruits and vegetables, eating enough protein for overall health and performance and limiting alcohol.†
Delicious Smoothies for Good Oral Health
Healthy Mouth Smoothie
- 1/2 cup of green tea and plain Greek yogurt
- 1-2 droppers of White Tea Tx®
- 1 scoop Greens Hx®
- 1 Banana
- 1 cup of strawberries
- 1 pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of fermented cod liver oil, ghee, and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 1 and ½ cup of Coconut Milk
Minty Fresh + Whitening Smoothie
- 2 kiwis
- 1 cup of strawberries
- 1 pinch of unrefined celtic sea salt
- 1-2 droppers of Green Tea Tx®
- 1 scoop of Reds Hx®
- 1 and ½ cup of Almond milk (contains calcium to make the teeth and bones strong)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped, mint leaves (great for fresh breath!)
- 1 cup of crushed ice cubes
- Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA. “Oral Health: The Silent Epidemic.” Public Health Reports. 2010, Mar-Apr. 125(2):158-159.
- G. A. Scardina and P. Messina. “Good Oral Health and Diet.” Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology 2012;2012:720692.
- Amit Vanka and Shanthi Vanka. “White Tea: A contributor to Oral Health”. Dental Research Journal. 2012 July-Aug;9(4(:504.
- Sari A. Mahasneh and Adel M. Mahasneh. “Probiotics: A Promising Role in Dental Health.” Dentistry Journal .2017 Dec; 5(4):26.
- Pirkko J. Pussinen, Tiina Laatikainen, [...], and Pekka Jousilahti. “Periodontitis is Associated with a Low Concentration of Vitamin C in Plasma”. Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immonology. 2003 Sep.