We recently came across a study that sounded interesting, in part because it was unique in terms of how it was funded and who participated. Far from being another blog about what you might consider a boring subject, this study was all about microbiomes in the mouth after we eat, and it was a crowd-funded study of museum visitors! Allow us to explain.
First of all – what the heck is a “microbiome?”
- If you’re unfamiliar with the term or perhaps you’ve heard or read about it in the news but never really understood – microbiome refers to the numerous species of (mostly!) friendly and beneficial bacteria that help our body function. While they exist in many areas of the body, it is in the gut and in the mouth where you will predominantly find them. They play an important role in our overall health.
What was the study looking for?
- The study was looking for a relationship between oral hygiene and good overall health.
What the study found.
- A group of “citizen scientists” converged on museum visitors at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. They asked over 300 people, both adults and children, to volunteer for a cheek swab and to answer a series of questions about demographics, lifestyle and health habits.
- They were looking to investigate the link between microbiomes, regular brushing and flossing and the importance of regular dental visits in overall health. They did so by examining “the invisible community of microbes that live in every mouth.”
- The study found, among other things, a strong correlation “between people who did not visit the dentist regularly and increased presence of a pathogen that causes periodontal disease.” Further, it also found “broadly, that oral health habits affect the communities of bacteria in the mouth. The study underscored the need to think about oral health as strongly linked to the health of the entire body.”
- There were differences between those who admitted to regularly attending dental appointments and those who did not and differences between children considered obese by typical BMI standard measurements and those who were not.
- As well, the study found differences in the microbiome between adults and children suggesting the more varied diet (as might be expected) enjoyed by adults leads to more opportunity for a better concentration of helpful bacteria, leading to the potential of better overall oral health too.
What Can You Do?
- Eat your vegetables! Leafy greens are great!
- Try to eliminate or cut down on sugary treats, sodas and processed foods. Look for natural sources of sweetness instead like berries, honey and even a square of dark chocolate for when you’ve really got a craving.
- Consider a good probiotic that can significantly help with gut health. If gut health is good it certainly helps with oral health as well since acids may be reduced meaning less acid-reflux that is potentially harmful to teeth.
- Drink lots of water – always a great way to stay hydrated and at the same time, help rinse away any lingering bacteria found in the mouth after eating (especially if you don’t have time to brush!)
In short, the study found what many of us have long suspected – confirming a relationship between “the need to think about oral health as strongly linked to the health of the entire body.” In other words, you are what you eat! If you’d like to know more about this study visit the link below and as always, in the meantime ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”