Happy Dental Health Week: how your mouth and guts determine good health

Home » Happy Dental Health Week: how your mouth and guts determine good health

The importance of the microorganisms that live on and in our bodies has long been recognized, and their complex synergistic impact on our systemic health is elucidated. Now, researchers from Japan have shown the importance of normal eating for the composition and balance of our individual oral and gut microbiota.

The Australian Dental Association’s (ADA) 2020 National Consumer Survey of around 25,000 people released for Dental Health Week (2-8 August) found:

• 4 in 10 parents report their children under 17 years drink 2 – 5 soft drinks a week, despite 83% knowing such drinks can lead to tooth decay. A sizeable number of parents appear to be unaware that fruit juice can lead to tooth decay.

• 2 in 3 adults usually visit the dentist for a specific problem rather than for a check-up, a figure that has not improved since first being recorded in 2014.

• 1 in 3 adults rate their oral health as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. This increased with age to 1 in 2 adults for those over 56. The most common reason was ‘don’t visit the dentist enough’.
“These findings show that Australians have the capacity to improve the daily habits that contribute to good oral health,” said ADA Vice President Dr Steven Liew. “Not brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is a fast track to developing tooth decay, gum disease and a range whole of body health issues that can arise from sub-par oral health. Brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, and flossing thoroughly every day, as well as consuming a diet low in added sugar and seeing your dentist at least once a year, all go a long way to maintaining good oral health and benefits whole of body health.”

“If it’s left, people may get by, but cavities and gum disease can lead to infection and to a serious, systemic health issue,” said Professors Daniel Haas, University of Toronto who studied fear and anxiety of the dentist in men and women. His data found women to be more fearful than men when it came to visiting the dentist but cautioned.

“Women are more likely to be honest about their feelings,” cautioned co-researcher Brian Chanpong, who is now practising dental anesthesia in Vancouver. “The typical male would be less likely to admit to being afraid of the dentist.” Yet, adds Haas, “It’s the young, healthy males who are the ones who often faint in the dental office.”

Sure, brushing your teeth and flossing can generally keep your teeth in good condition, but in reality, visiting a dentist is going to have a huge positive impact on your ability to keep your teeth in good condition. The importance of the microorganisms that live on and in our bodies has long been recognszed, and their complex synergistic impact on overall systemic health is elucidated. Lead author of a study that reintroduced oral foods to patients previously being fed by intubation, Sayaka Katagiri, Assistant Professor of Periodontology at Tokyo Medical and Dental University found restructuring and alterations of microbiome systems both in the mouth and the stomach.

Why you shouldn’t be scared:

The dental practice will be completely different to how you remember it

As research has become more sophisticated so too have dental practise.

Credit: Carbon Inc.

Dental practices have changed drastically over the past couple of years. Nowadays they’re much more modern, they contain more advanced technologies, and the dental chairs are much more comfortable and well-suited for modern use. It’s a completely different experience from what you might remember if you’ve not been to a dentist in several years.

There are loads of treatment options available and it can get a bit confusing

These days, dentists offer more and more treatments to deal with very specific problems. For example, products like Invisalign can be a great way to align your teeth and improve your smile. These are slightly newer products, but there are still older procedures such as hygienist sessions that you can request for a deep tooth clean. University of Plymouth studied at home oral hygiene products with chlorhexidine mouthwash over the seven days led to a greater abundance of species within the families of Firmicutes and Proteobacteria, and fewer Bacteroidetes, TM7 and Fusobacteria. In effect, increasing acidity, lowering salivary pH and buffering capacity making the way for teeth damage, stressing the importance of speacialised care and checks.

In the Australian Dental Association’s survey:

  • Teeth whitening statistics showed 37% people purchased a kit online and 16% from a chemist or supermarket;
  • 16% had it done at the dental practice; and
  • 22% did it at home under the supervision of the dentist who supplied a take-home kit.
  • 64% said they weren’t aware of the risks of teeth whitening services operated by non-dentists. These risks can include painful chemical burns to the gums and lips, and sensitivity or pain affecting the teeth.
  • 18% of respondents said they whitened yearly, 38% every 6 months, 26% bi-monthly, 15% monthly and 3% every week.

It can get expensive to get all of your treatments done

Whether it’s getting dental crowns, having a deep clean of your teeth, or even getting fillings done, the cost of dental treatments can be surprisingly high even if you have insurance. It’s best to speak with your dentist to see if there are any financial plans that you can access to make it more affordable.

The oral cavity directly and indirectly affects other body systems.

Research has found high prevalence of diabetes and heart disease associated with poor oral health and Tooth decay with regular drug use. As the oral cavity and mouth is an entry mode for pathogenic agents, the advanced in study in this area have identified reductions in the prevalence of respiratory infections in tests that compared good and bad oral health. The activity of good and bad bacteria in the mouth have also been associated with pancreatic cancers, and also affecting joints resulting in the failure of knee and hip replacements.

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