Help! There’s a bug on my plate!
Every denture wearer is made aware by their prosthetist that a healthy mouth depends on good hygiene practice when it comes to dentures. But a healthy mouth isn’t all that’s at stake. Moreover, a healthy mouth doesn’t mean a sterile one.
There’s a lot been said lately about the human gut microbiome and its importance to human well-being. But did you know that our mouths and noses have their own microbiome or bacteria, that make a home in our oral and nasal cavities?
It’s often been quoted that bacteria and other microbes in our body outnumber our own cells by about ten to one. More recently that’s been disputed by researchers in Israel and Canada (1) who claim the ratio between resident microbes and human cells is more likely to be one-to-one with some deviations among individuals.
The point is, researchers (2) have discovered we exist in a harmonious, symbiotic relationship as a kind of ‘super-organism’ or ‘holobiont’, with microbes and bacteria that are not separate from, but an integral part, of us.
Furthermore, the oral microbiome, just like the one in our gut, plays a significant role in our health and physiology (3). An article in the British Dental Journal (4) explains the oral microbiome is the second most diverse microbial community in our bodies, having more than 700 species of bacteria that live on the teeth and soft tissues of our mouths. Who would have thought?
Some of the positive ways our good bacteria effect our health are by:
- helping to resist pathogenic bacteria
- providing anti-inflammatory properties
- assisting with anti-oxidant activity
- helping our metabolic function
- maintaining a healthy digestive tract
- regulating the cardiovascular system
- supporting our immune system (4)
It’s amazing what goes on behind the scenes!
But what about the bad guys? What happens when our defenses are breached by bad bacteria?
Modern lifestyles can have dire consequences for our oral and general health. This can cause what scientists call dysbiosis, a disruption of the finely balanced equilibrium of the oral microbiome allowing disease-promoting bacteria to take over and cause conditions such as caries, gingivitis and periodontitis. (5)
This is why oral health is so crucial for maintaining a balanced microbiome and therefore overall health.
Factors such as: diet, stress and tobacco consumption among other things, can upset the finely balanced oral ecosystem. (6)
Researchers insist therefore, to protect our health and avoid disease we must take a holistic approach and consider all parts of the body as an interconnected whole. They claim to address this imbalance and maintain a harmonious state to protect health and prevent disease, we must not focus on the host and its residents as separate units, but instead consider the holobiont as one – in other words, our super-organism selves! (7) All aspects of a healthy lifestyle benefit us and the bugs we depend on.
A healthy life may not include a fly in your soup, but it seems bugs on your plate are essential.