4 Ways the Oral Microbiome Can Affect Your Overall Health

Having a healthy balance of microbes in your mouth is beneficial for your oral health, helping you avoid cavities, gum disease, mouth ulcers, and even bad breath. What you might not know, however, is that it can also impact your overall well-being.

Young woman checking her teeth and tongue at mirror in bathroom. Learn about the oral microbiome.

Having an imbalanced oral microbiome can play a role in some of the most common health conditions people face. Learn more about how your oral microbiome affects the rest of your body.

1. Cancer

Individual types of bacteria present in your mouth have associations with certain cancers. When you have a balanced oral microbiome, these bacteria remain in check. But when you don’t, they can grow out of control and potentially contribute to the development of cancer.

P. Gingivalis and F. Nucleatum are two types of bacteria you find in your mouth that have associations with:

  • Pancreatic cancer

  • Colon cancer

  • Oral cancer

These bacteria promote tumor progression as well as inflammation. Another way that these bacteria can impact you is during cancer treatment. They can severely alter the body’s response to treatment and even increase the toxicity of radiation and chemotherapy.

2. Neurological Disease

P. Gingivalis has been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Not only does this prove that bacteria can affect neurological diseases, but it also shows a clear link between the mouth and the brain, called the Oral-Brain axis.

The bacteria can contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease because it increases the component of amyloid plaques, which disrupt cell function and collect between neurons. The bacteria can also be detrimental to tau, a protein your brain needs for normal neuronal function. For this same reason, it can also contribute to other neurological diseases, like dementia.

3. Diabetes

People who have diabetes are more prone to having an imbalanced oral microbiome. If you have diabetes, you will have more sugars present in your saliva, promoting the growth of harmful bacteria.

Oral dysbiosis can also increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Oral dysbiosis has been linked to obesity, which, in turn, is linked to diabetes.

The treatment of oral diseases caused by this type of microbiome imbalance consistently shows an improvement in glycemic control. One of the theories behind this is that oral dysbiosis causes systemic inflammation, and inflammation is a key issue people with diabetes face.

4. Heart Disease

Three types of bacteria found in the mouth can impact cardiovascular health:

  • T. Denticola

  • P. Gingivalis

  • F. Nucleatum

Plaques in the heart, which clog the arteries and lead to heart disease, often contain these bacteria.

Periodontal diseases have long been associated with cardiovascular issues, including coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis. The treatment of oral issues has similarly been found to help to reduce the risk of heart problems.

Now there is a clearer understanding that it is these bacteria that can lead to the development of plaque and cause the systemic inflammation and oxidative stress that affects so many aspects of overall health. Oral dysbiosis can also trigger immunosuppression issues, which can contribute to the progression or development of cardiovascular diseases.

Protect Your Health with Support from Berkeley Lifestyle Dentistry

Your oral health has a huge impact on your overall well-being, so taking steps to maintain the balance in your oral microbiome can be essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you are not certain how to ensure you have the right balance, you can turn to the experts at Berkeley Lifestyle Dentistry in Berkeley, CA.

Dr. Nisha Kalra specializes in lifestyle dentistry, offering a comprehensive view of oral health and how to achieve it by making changes to your lifestyle. This can include what you eat, your oral hygiene routine, and so much more. With an expert by your side, you can start making the necessary changes to your oral health. Ready to learn more?

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