Natural dentistry means to some extent understanding the natural history of oral health, including the recognition that your mouth is a microbiome.
A microbiome is a localized environment that provides living conditions for organisms. Your mouth is full of many microorganisms that thrive there. Some of them are helpful, natural symbiotes that have lived with us since the dawn of time. Others are more harmful organisms, trying to exploit the recent changes to our diet. These newer arrivals are the ones that we’re constantly trying to eliminate from our mouths when we brush and floss, because they’re the ones that harm our oral and overall health.
If you can promote healthy oral bacteria, you’re less likely to develop tooth decay and gum disease, so you’re less likely to need reconstructive dentistry. So here are a few basic tips for maintaining a healthy oral microbiome.
What you eat is the biggest influence on your oral microbiome. One of the things that brings organisms into your mouth is that they’re hoping for a free meal from what you eat. Different organisms are adapted to exploit different types of food resources. Those that rely almost exclusively on sugars are the most damaging to our oral health. So the more sugars you eat, the more likely that type of organism is going to thrive and crowd out the helpful organisms that protect your teeth–and your body–from the damage caused by destructive organisms.
Eating more fruits and vegetables, which supply water and fiber alongside the sugars that are present, helps keep your oral microbiome balanced.
Cleaning your mouth regularly also helps keep your oral microbiome healthy. Damaging bacteria are more prone to forming plaque on your teeth,which gives them shelter from saliva and helps them grown unfettered by other bacteria. So it’s important to brush your teeth regularly to remove these damaging oral bacteria. And don’t forget to floss: damaging bacteria love to shelter between your teeth.
Professional cleanings have an important role here, too. You have to make sure that you are getting the tartar (hardened plaque) removed from your teeth, since this provides a shelter for harmful bacteria–especially anaerobic bacteria that can contribute to bad breath.
It’s also important to remember that lifestyle choices can negatively impact your oral microbiome. Smoking is a big one here. Cigarette smoke and smokeless tobacco are toxic to your mouth and to the microorganisms found there. When your system is exposed to this kind of toxicity, it can kill off healthy microorganisms, allowing damaging ones to flourish.
While a small amount of beer or wine may have a protective effect, overconsumption of alcohol can be very damaging. It can be toxic, too, and it dehydrates your mouth. This creates an acidic environment, which fosters the growth of damaging bacteria.
And it’s important to remember that some habits which seem healthy can be damaging to the oral microbiome. For example, if you’re a runner, you could be damaging your oral microbiome through dehydration and repeated drops in pH.
A Healthy Mouth Doesn’t Need Repair
At Top Down Dental, we strongly believe that taking a natural dentistry approach like maintaining a healthy oral biome is a better approach to dentistry than constantly repairing our patients’ teeth.
If you’re looking for a dentist who can help you maintain a healthy oral biome, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with San Jose area natural dentist Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.