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Functional Medicine-Based Dentistry and Nutrition

Functional Medicine-Based Dentistry and Nutrition

Taking care of your mouth, gums and teeth is a really important part of maintaining good health.

As an integrative and functional nutritionist, I look for underlying root causes for symptoms and illnesses….and that includes your oral health.

While still not typically part of conventional dentistry, more and more dentists are looking at the connection between oral health and the health of the rest of the body.

Your oral health is more important than you might realize. Learn how the health of your mouth, teeth and gums can affect your general health. Did you know that your oral health offers clues about your overall health — or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body? Protect yourself by learning more about the connection between your oral health and overall health.

What’s the connection between oral health and overall health?

Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria — mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.

Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Also, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Part of saliva’s job is to wash away food and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and may lead to disease.

Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some diseases. Compounding that, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

Read the full article.

It’s a two-way street — your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, and certain conditions also might affect your oral health.

Oral Bacteria and PPI’s

Dysbiosis of the mouth is thought to be the root cause of many diseases. The oral microbiome is connected to, and affects the rest of the gut microbiome.

Stomach acid has an important job of naturally killing many pathogens entering from the mouth. But when people are on PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) or other acid suppressing medications (like H2  blockers), acid levels are reduced and the body loses that natural protection. Consequently, many “bad bacteria” that originated in the mouth are not killed off and can get translocated to the small intestine where they do not belong! If these bacteria take hold and flourish, this can lead to gut dysbiois, gut inflammation and digestive symptoms.

Nutrition and a Healthy Mouth — Diet and Supplements

Among other things, a healthy mouth is one that is free from inflammation, has pink, firm gums, no bleeding and very little plaque. (And of course, no untreated caries!)

Oral health begins with good oral hygiene and a healthy diet. It’s foundational to eat a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet — a whole foods diet (e.g. lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins, little red meat, fatty fish, no processed foods or added sugars).

In addition, to a healthy, nutrient dense, whole foods diet, the following nutrition supplements are being used in functional medicine-based dentistry:

  • Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, Vitamin C – gum, tooth and bone health
  • CoQ10 – gum health
  • Probiotics – oral microbiome
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