Everybody knows the importance of nurturing probiotic bacteria for good gut health. We consume vast quantities of yoghurt and other probiotic products to ensure our gut microbiome includes a good range of probiotic bacterial species.
What is the gut microbiome…and microbiota?
The gut microbiome refers to the curated collection of genomes (genes) identified in all the microorganisms found in a person’s gut. It’s basically a list of germ genes.
On the other hand, the gut microbiota is a reference to the gut’s microbial ecosystem and the actual microorganisms living in it. Their numbers can vary from 10 trillion to 100 trillion microorganisms at any given time. For example, several hours after a huge Sunday night meal, the microorganism count in your gut skyrockets for good reason.
Having a well balanced, flourishing gut microbiota benefits your body in a number of ways, including:
- breaks down and converts food into absorbable nutrients for the body’s cell regeneration, energy and hydration needs
- regulation of nutrient absorption
- protection against harmful bacteria by competitive exclusion
- produces essential bio-active compounds, such as a range of B vitamins
The oral cavity contains the body’s 2nd largest microbiota
If we move back up the oesophagus to the mouth, you’ll find the location of the body’s second largest microbiota after the gut – the oral cavity. Alas, there is no such public awareness or recognition of the oral microbiota nor the links of its 600-700 species to our oral and general health.
Where in the oral cavity do they live? Pretty much everywhere, including the teeth, tongue, gumline (gingival sulcus), saliva, hard/soft palates, floor of your mouth, inner cheeks and throat. All these different saliva-coated surfaces combine to provide a unique and varied environment suitable for a wide range of probiotic microbial species.
10 benefits of a diverse oral microbiome and healthy oral microbiota
A healthy oral microbiota is an exceptionally complex microbial habitat that contributes to our oral and general health in many ways:
- helps to shape and drive a healthy gut microbiome
- regulates the saliva’s buffering capacity (for high PH) to neutralise acids in the mouth – the type that cause tooth erosion
- reduces numbers of pathogenic acid-producing bacteria via competitive exclusion – decreases the bacterial acid load responsible for tooth decay & cavities
- helps prevent gum disease
- decreases gum inflammation
- initiates digestion and digestive processes
- metabolises nitrates into nitrites – a key molecule to reduce blood pressure
- prevents plaque
- prevents bad breath
When your oral microbiota is in balance, expect to have good oral health, great digestion and even better nutritional uptake for a healthier mouth and body.
Unfortunately, eating junk food and excess use of antimicrobial mouthwashes aren’t the best ways to sustain these plant-loving probiotic oral bacteria. On the contrary, we have either starved or wiped them out, acidified our saliva and allowed billions of sugar-loving pathogenic bacteria to take over – wreaking havoc on our teeth, gums, brain and body.
Is it time for you to replenish and nourish your oral microbiota for better oral health?