How Oral Health Affects Patient Wellness
- April 25, 2023
Many of your patients are focused on what they eat and how it affects their body. Yet, every day, they swallow oral bacteria that can radically shape their gut microbiome and contribute to health problems throughout the body. Though many assign oral health concerns to dentistry, proper dental care means more than just a healthy mouth. Good oral health can reduce or eliminate unhealthy bacteria in the saliva. In turn, this can significantly impact the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
Today, poor oral health is prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2% of adults 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. Therefore, the connection between oral health and overall well-being has become a potentially definitive aspect of patient care.
Several independent studies have shown the transformative effect of periodontopathic bacteria on digestive health and systemic diseases. The digestive system has the most exposure to the bacteria and proteins contained in the saliva. While many of these bacteria are dissolved in the strong stomach acids, bacteria from certain dental and gum diseases can significantly affect digestion. In one study, mice injected with the gingivitis bacteria showed a significant decrease in bacterial DNA in the liver, as well as a shift in the gut microbiota. The gingivitis bacteria can also impair gut barrier function and increase the risk of digestive and oral cancers.
Unlike the digestive tract and gut, the cardiovascular system has no direct contact with oral bacteria. Nevertheless, a link has been discovered between oral care and heart disease. From tooth loss and dry mouth to severe periodontitis, poor oral health has been repeatedly connected to cardiovascular damage.
Some have argued that the correlation between cardiovascular disease and oral health is not causative. Instead, both could stem from the same environmental cause, such as tobacco use or poor diet. However, even when adjusting for all lifestyle risk factors, a recent comprehensive study found a definitive connection between periodontal disease and an increased risk of CVD mortality. Additional studies have shown a dual effect of periodontitis on cardiovascular health. First, the inflammation caused by gum disease can contribute to overall and chronic inflammation. Second, bacteria from both gingivitis and periodontal disease can travel to blood vessels throughout the body and cause damage. This is supported by the discovery of several oral bacteria in atherosclerotic plaque.
Preventing Periodontal Disease and Promoting Oral Health
The widespread effects of oral diseases make prevention vital. Effective methods for promoting oral health are convenient and widely accessible. To improve oral health and wellness, discuss the following changes with your patients.
Begin with the standard recommendations for oral hygiene and dental health. The foundation of good oral health begins with preventing tooth decay through consistent dental visits, regular toothbrushing, and daily flossing. Additionally, ensure that your patients are consuming the appropriate amount of fluoride; recommend a fluoride toothpaste if their water fluoridation is below recommended levels. Dental sealants may also help prevent the development of gum disease.
Additionally, consider incorporating the following habits to reduce harmful bacteria:
- Swish with nano-particularized silver. Recent studies have highlighted the effectiveness of nano-particularized silver (or nanosilver) in dental care. In particular, it fights plaque formation and strips the mouth of damaging oral bacteria. Encourage your patients to swish with nano-particularized silver for 4-5 minutes, then rinse.
- Adopt oil pulling. By swishing one tablespoon of oil (such as coconut oil, sesame oil, or olive oil) for fifteen minutes, your patients can remove excess plaque, limit damaging oral bacteria, and reduce the likelihood of oral diseases.
- Use a low-alcohol zinc mouthwash. While mouthwash is an effective way to fully clean the crannies of the mouth, alcohol-derived mouthwashes can actually kill beneficial facultative anaerobic bacteria. Your patients should seek out a low-alcohol mouthwash. Due to zinc’s positive effect on dental health, a mouthwash with added zinc is preferred.
As with many systemic concerns, additional dietary supplementation can help bolster your patients’ oral health. In particular, consider supplementing with:
- Resveratrol. Resveratrol inhibits two of the main bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
- Vitamin C. Known for its role in collagen production, vitamin C strengthens gums and fights against oral diseases.
- Vitamin A. As a well-known anti-inflammatory, Vitamin A protects against inflammation and infection in the oral cavity.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E fights bacteria and supports the immune system. It’s often used in the dental industry to treat and manage gum decay.
- Coenzyme Q10. One study found that coenzyme Q10 oral supplements contributed to a significant reduction in gingival inflammation. Other flavonoids likewise contribute to oral health, such as honey.
Alongside dietary supplementation and lifestyle changes, consider incorporating the oral cavity as a part of your physical examinations during annual checkups. Pay particular attention to the gum line, checking for periodontal swelling and bleeding.
With appropriate dental care, health interventions, and supplementation, you can ensure that your patients are receiving the best oral health care to improve their general health and wellness. These practices could reduce chronic conditions, highlight proper oral care, and improve quality of life.
Testing for Whole-Body and Oral Health
The oral health conditions of your patients are just one of the elements contributing to your patient’s overall health. With so many nuanced factors at play, you need the most comprehensive information on your patients. Access Medical Labs offers saliva and blood testing so you can provide the best patient care. Our health and wellness testing can help you track the efficacy of oral health treatments and monitor your patient’s health at a microscopic level. Explore more from Access Medical Labs.
More About Dr. Ghen
Mitchell Ghen, DO, Ph.D. has 33 years of experience in Anti-Aging and holistic and integrative medicine. Along with his work in nutritional medicine, “Dr. Mitch” has a remarkable amount of experience as an expert clinician and researcher in the field of stem cell transplantation.
In addition to being a physician, Dr. Mitch holds a Master’s Degree in Biomechanical Trauma and has a Ph.D. in nutrition and psychoneuroimmunology. He is an international lecturer on oral and IV nutrition and stem cell transplantation and is recognized as one of the premier teachers at conferences and seminars on integrative medicine. His private practice is in Boca Raton, Florida.
Dr. Mitch’s vast academic knowledge, coupled with his entertaining delivery, makes him one of the most sought after personalities in his field. Currently, he is a medical director for several Natural Medicine companies and a consultant for physicians worldwide, teaching them how to implement integrative medicine into their practices.
He is the co-author of four textbooks including the “Advance Guide to Longevity Medicine,” “The Ghen and Raine’s Guide to Compounding Pharmaceuticals,” “The Anti-Aging Physicians’ Handbook for Compounding Pharmaceuticals,” and “The Essentials and Science of IV Parenteral Medicine.”