The Mouth - Gut Connection
These days a visit to your dentist is about more than just your teeth. It is about the mouth as a whole. The mouth is the first part of the gut, so the health of your mouth and gut will inevitably be linked! From ancient traditions to modern science, the health of the gut has always had a huge influence on general health and these days we are surrounded by plenty of evidence supporting this.
The mouth has a very rich blood and nerve supply connecting it to the rest of the body. Furthermore, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda (the ancient Indian medical system) believes that there are energy pathways connecting the mouth to the rest of the body.
Think of your gastrointestinal tract as a “river”. The beginning and source of that “river’ is your mouth. So, what happens in your mouth pretty much affects every part of your body “downstream”.
Despite growing health industry focus around gut health, the mouth and its significance is often overlooked or underestimated.
So how does our mouth affect our gut health and vice versa?
The first stage of the digestive process occurs in the mouth. Food is broken up physically and mixed with saliva. Saliva lubricates the food for easier passage through the gut and also contains enzymes which begin breaking down carbohydrates and fats in the food preparing them for the next stage of digestion. Missing teeth and issues with chewing can lead to incomplete digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
Bacteria - More than 7 billion bacteria are present in the mouth! This is the same as the population of the world! Some of these bacteria produce toxins and lead to disease, not only in the mouth, but also other parts of the body. Untreated teeth infections and gum diseases are a constant source of bacteria and toxins, which can be swallowed on a daily basis.
Heavy metals- Heavy metals such as mercury in amalgam fillings can upset the bacterial balance and promote candida growth.
What are the symptoms if toxins are present?
Bad breath can be a strong indication that the gut is not healthy. It is not only bad bacteria in the mouth that can cause bad breath!
Coating present on your tongue when you wake are toxins from the gut that migrate up the mucous lining overnight.
Excessive acid reflux from the gut may also erode the enamel which makes up the hard outer surface of a tooth..
Teeth grinding may be due to parasite toxins or other imbalances in the gut. This is often the reason why young children grind their teeth.
For more information, follow this link to a recent Body and Soul article whereby Dr Aushi Patel was interviewed on this important subject: The 5-day gut health cleanse that actually works