EP 4: The Oral Microbiome And Why It Plays Into Aging

In This Episode, We Discuss:

  • 800 micro organisms in the mouth(0.59)
  • Oral Disease Journal how oral microbiome affects health(1:53)
  • Mercury(2:52)
  • Importance of saliva(5:29)
  • How acidity affects us(8:02)
  • Oral microbiome supporting toothpaste(11:29)
  • Alo vera healing mouthwash recipe(12:38)

Hi, this is Dr. Jenny Sechler. Welcome to the art and science of defying aging. Today’s episode is about the oral microbiome. I’m going to talk about what the oral microbiome is and how it plays into aging. Our research has found it’s connected with many chronic health issues. 

We talk a lot about the gut microbiome, yet the oral microbiome is just as important if not more and doesn’t get much attention. We should care because research is showing many issues, actually start in the mouth and imbalances within our mouth bacterias start the cascade. They create heart disease, diabetes, and many other problems. So what if the symptoms that you currently struggling with are actually coming from a root problem in the mouth?

So let’s dive in first, let’s define what the oral microbiome is: It’s a world of bacteria living in your mouth and your ears and your nose and your throat and your nasal passages. 

(00:59): There’s reported to be nearly 800 unique microorganisms in the mouth. These commonly ignored organisms are intimately involved with their downstream counterparts in the gut. Now the gut is what gets all the glory and the fame for causing so many issues. But I think we need to head back up North to the mouth and see how the mouth affects our gut. 

Like most things, theories about the oral microbiome isn’t new. And actually back in 1939, a dentist by the name of Weston price, published a book on oral overall health diet and how that impacts our oral health. It didn’t really get much attention. It was somewhat discussed and then kind of fell out of favor, but it came back for discussion in the mid 1980s. And has stayed around now, especially in certain circles, particularly with biological dentists, though, many traditional dentists, don’t really acknowledge this. 

(01:53): I want to share some current research about what they’re finding and how the our microbiome affects our overall health. 

It’s from a journal called the oral disease journal. I’m just going to give you a couple of topics discussed in some  articles within this journal about the oral microbiome. One is the oral bacteria has been linked to a number of systemic diseases, including bacterial endocarditis, ischemic stroke and cardiovascular disease, along with Crohn’s disease and pancreatic cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. They found inflammation is a key feature of the disease that could be caused in part by peripheral infections, such as periodontal disease. Those are just a couple of examples. 

I was, when I first read this, I was like, wow, I had no idea. I wasn’t aware there was this much direct correlation with health issues in our oral microbiome. Honestly, I sat up straighter and started paying more attention. So let’s touch on a couple of issues within the mouth itself. 

(02:52): Lets discuss some potential problems. Mercury is discussed much more than it ever used to be. There’s still much controversy within the dental profession in of itself about the harms of mercury. I have a biological dentist here in Austin, and I have  had all my mercury taken out. He educated me and many other patients about the harm of mercury while other traditional dentists don’t really put too much weight on this issue. The second issue is root canals which is also a controversy among many circles of people. We’re not going to debate this, but just know that these may be issues. And depending on who you talk to, it actually might be something to consider looking at if you’re struggling with long standing health issues, without having answers. 

I listened to Mark Hyman recently. And he was talking about his own health and, about his oral microbiome. And he was saying that he had this gut instinct, this gut feeling that something wasn’t right. 

(03:47): And it was stemming from his mouth. So he talked to his dentist. He said several times. And on every occasion he was dismissed. You know, he kept going back and he kept saying, no, I know there’s something going on here. That’s contributing to my health issues. 

Finally, he requested a cone CT scan, which is basically like an MRI, of the mouth. So his dentist agreed. And lo and behold, they found a low grade infection in his mouth. He was so relieved, but I think it really tells me, you should tell everyone else that if you have a gut feeling about something, you need to keep following that and keep talking to your practitioners until they finally follow that road, because it could lead to some of your answers. So one of my takeaways from all that was to find a biological dentist. I started seeing a biological dentist, not until I was actually almost 50. 

(04:41): When I moved here to Austin, about seven years ago. Again, I mentioned before I finished having my mercury removed and I just looked at my oral microbiome in a much different way. Once I started seeing this dentist, and I’m also much more suspicious when I work with clients as to if and what might be contributing to their health that might be living in their mouth.

 So, if you’re having problems again, connect with a biological dentist in your area and request a cone CT scan to get, it’s almost like an MRI for the mouth. Now it’s not a hundred percent. Nothing is, but right now it’s the best detailed tool that we have to find hidden infections and problems that aren’t typically seen by an average dentist or an x-ray. 

So why is the oral microbiome so important? Well, our mouth is the first line of defense is I think the gateway to everything. 

(05:29): So let’s spend a minute talking about our saliva.We produce about two soda cans worth of saliva every single day. It has a very interesting makeup. It has proteins, including enzymes that actually start the digestive process of starches in the mouth. 

And that’s why it’s so important to chew our food. Well, I like to ask my clients, are you eating, standing up? Are you watching TV? Are you driving in the car? Because all those things affect how well or poorly you digest your foods. 

Now, saliva is part of our immune system. It has immune fighting substances, and it’s a primary defense against pathogens that travel into the rest of our circulatory blood system. It’s like a body guard so bugs don’t travel into your gut and elsewhere creating chaos. Now, did you know the number one cause of a cavity isn’t sugar,? it’s a dry mouth, which leads into what can go wrong in the oral microbiome. 

(06:26): Now, as we age, unfortunately, many people start taking various kinds of medications which is a daily routine and one of the most common side effects to most medications is a dry mouth. 

Now this matters because you’re losing the protective mechanism that your saliva is giving you. So that’s one issue. I think there’s this notion that age itself causes dry mouth. It’s not seemingly to be found to be true. 

It’s estimated that 70% of people over 70 experienced a dry mouth that leads to dental cavities, more tooth decay, tooth weakness, and then eventually fractured teeth.

 An interesting article recently about two dentists and they were discussing why some patients seem to do well. And other ones don’t he mentioned an 85 year old that still had his mercury fillings and the gentleman was thriving while the 50 year old male was struggling though he had his mercury taken out. He had some root canals, but he just wasn’t doing well. So one hypothesis that came up was that besides obviously genetics playing a part, ou microbiome might be such that it’s not creating the same dynamic or reaction with the fillings that leads to off gassing and having absorption issues in the gut. And secondly, that person might be able to detoxify heavy metals better. While many people are just poor detoxifiers, you know, each person is unique as to how we process toxins, our food and the environment around us, thus laying the foundation for balance or reactivity. 

(08:02): Another issue is acidity. The average American diet is very acidic. I think more people are becoming aware of this. And so they are eating more green foods, et cetera, which is more alkaline. But I think the problem has been there for so long that modifying the diet to more alkaline is kind of taking a backseat, unlike many human diseases, oral bacteria diseases, such as dental cavities and periodontitis are not caused by a single species, but by consortium of species that are likely living harmlessly in very low numbers. 

(08:36): And often below the level of detection in the oral cavity. So in essence, oral bacteria diseases are opportunistic infections, and thus disease occurs under the proper circumstances and conditions like a poor diet immune system issue, a genetic issue, a pH issue, poor oral hygiene or lifestyle choices, medication side effects being a poor detoxifier and simple stress. 

So as we age our oral microbiome changes, for instance, they’re actually finding that lactobacillus tends to dominate the microbiome for many older people. Now with aging, there’s a link between oral bacteria and Alzheimer’s, it came from some studies that were finding some bacteria that were traveling, into the brain coming from the mouth. I’m hoping not to butcher this name, but Trempnema denticola spirochete was found at the early stages in the brains of some Alzheimer patients Another interesting study was done on nuns and they found that they were losing their teeth from dental disease seemed to have more dementia. 

(09:47): I found this very fascinating and it really makes me think, but what are we missing and what can we do to support ourselves and prevent these chronic illnesses that might actually be starting from the mouth? What can we can do to support our microbiome with some simple things. The first is to drink water. Make sure you stay hydrated.

Oil pulling has been around for a long time. That’s where you take some coconut oil and you swish it around in your mouth. anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes, I’ve done that. I can’t do it for 20 minutes. If I can get to five minutes, I think I’m doing a good job. It pulls some toxins out of your mouth. Now, if you have a saliva issue, you have a dry mouth you’re on some medications and you can’t do anything about that. 

(10:33): Then the option is to use something called Xylimelts, which is an artificial saliva substitute. They’re like strips that you put in your mouth and it helps you to create more saliva. There are some foods that contribute to more saliva that include Green leafy veggies, like kale and broccoli.

Evaluate your medications, Sit down with your practitioner and talk about your oral health. It’s just a good conversation to have, make sure you’re brushing your teeth after your meals find a biological dentists to ensure there’s no underlying infection somewhere in your mouth, your teeth, simple nutrients like vitamin D three with K2. Increasing alkaline foods in your diet can be helpful taking anti-inflammatories like curcumin just to help keep systemic inflammation down. 

(11:23): Let’s talk about toothpaste for a minute. Did you know that toothpaste was invented by soap makers a hundred years ago? 

(11:29): It started out as flavor detergent for the mouth. I think it’s time to support your oral microbiome by stop using detergent toothpaste are harmful, but even some natural toothpaste that are on the market aren’t great either. They’ve got a lot of antimicrobials particularly a common one is tea tree oil, but remember tea tree oil kills things. So we shouldn’t be throwing off our oral microbiome, by using these ingredients too much.

So natural toothpaste can be good, but should be used sparingly to help keep a balance within the mouth so not to create dysbiosis. I did some research out of my own curiosity. Well, what toothpaste should I be using? So one of the best brands that actually advertises that support or, or microbiome is called Zen diem, it’s Z E N D I U M and two other toothpastes that I found to help support remineralization of your teeth were rise well and Boca ela mint. I have no relationship with any of these that I found. 

(12:28): It was just in my own research. I tried boka ela mint. It tastes kind of minty it was ok. So I started  using that every evening to see what’s going to happen. 

(12:45): I’m going to give you a recipe it’s for Aloevera healing mouthwash. Now, again, this has tea tree oil in it. So I would suggest not using it daily, but maybe a couple of times a week. So you take a half a cup of Aloe vera juice and half a cup of filtered or distilled water, one and a half tablespoons of baking soda, two drops of your favorite essential oil for flavor. If desired one drop of tea tree oil, you mix everything together in a glass bottle and you shake it. After you brush your teeth you swish around about a tablespoon or so for 30 seconds and then spit it out. 

(13:14): These are just some helpful tips to ensure or to promote a healthy oral microbiome. So I hope you found these tips helpful and maybe even raise some red flags for you to look at and see if your oral microbiome might be contributing to any current symptoms or issues you’re having. And that you can take some potential action steps to support and create a healthy oral microbiome that will help you to age. Well, thanks for listening and look forward to next time. 

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