The powerful role of the gut on physical and mental health is becoming better understood. Research connects the gut to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression as well as conditions like autoimmune disease and cancer. With approximately 60 – 70 million Americans suffering from some form of digestive disorder, conversations around how to best support your gut are extremely important.
So what does this have to do with your teeth and gums? A lot! In fact, research is showing a strong connection between oral health and the health of your gut. The Journal of Oral Microbiology found that the bacteria involved in gum disease, called P. gingivalis, can find its way into the gut and cause inflammation. This would suggest that supporting your teeth and gums to prevent gum disease could, in turn, help prevent problems with the gut.
Oral Health and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, is a term that encompasses two digestive conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD can sometimes affect the mouth with painful ulcers, decreased saliva production or gingivitis. Studies suggest that patients with IBD may be at higher risk of gum disease and cavities, particularly among smokers. For those with IBD, working to keep your teeth and gums healthy is vital. Researchers are even considering whether reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth might also be a way to reduce IBD flare ups that occur when that bacteria migrate to the gut and cause inflammation.
Healthy Smile, Healthier You
While there are many factors that influence wellness, taking care of your teeth and gums is one way you can play an active role in your overall health. Limiting sugary foods and beverages, quitting smoking, brushing and flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly not only keep your smile healthy, they also support your gut. Let your dental team know if you are struggling with a digestive disorder like IBD so we can factor that into your overall treatment plan.