Microbiomes are a community of hundreds of billions of microorganisms that play an essential role to keep your systems healthy. They aid in various areas, including metabolism, digestion, and keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
So, how does the oral microbiome help in keeping our mouths healthy? What role does it play, and how can you boost it? This post has all the answers you seek for these and other related questions to help you understand more about the oral microbiome.
What Is Oral Microbiome?
The oral microbiome is a vast community of diverse microorganisms in your mouth. These particles can be found in your saliva or other surfaces of your mouth. Oral bacteria are more prominent in your mouth, although other microorganisms exist, including fungi and other viruses.
We brush our teeth and floss daily to keep out the bad bacteria and keep our oral health in check. However, much of the bacteria in your mouth is not only harmless but may also be vital to your health. This is because it provides the much-needed balance within your body.
The oral microbiome forms biofilms all over the mouth to promote a healthy ecosystem in your oral system. With over 2 billion thriving bacteria and approximately 700 known species, your oral microbiome has different types of bacteria, including pathogenic, symbiotic, and independent microorganisms.
Role Of Oral Bacteria In Oral Health
The good oral bacteria in your mouth have a significant role to play, not only directly impacting your oral health but also your general body health. Some of the roles played by the microbial communities in your oral health include:
- Maintain homeostasis within your mouth
- Protect the mouth from disease-causing microorganisms and eliminate free radicals by promoting the supply of antibodies
- Transporting molecular oxygen to the gums and other soft tissues
- Remove waste from your mouth’s surfaces
- Transporting ionic minerals from the saliva to the surface of teeth which helps in remineralization
The Benefits Of Having A Probiotic Oral Microbiome
Probiotic oral bacteria, also known as friendly germs, have numerous benefits that can help you to maintain a healthy oral cavity. For instance, they help protect the oral cavity from decay and other diseases.
Moreover, these friendly germs interfere with the proliferation of oral pathogens by:
Popular Microbiome-Based Products in 2023
There are many microbiome-based dental hygiene products available that can help you maintain a healthy oral microbiome. Some of them include:
- Probiotic Toothpaste: Probiotic toothpaste is designed to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth. This toothpaste contains beneficial bacteria to assist in the restoration of the natural balance of the oral microbiome. Pro-Enamel is a good microbiome-based toothpaste from Hyperbiotics that you can try out.
- Prebiotic Mouthwash: Prebiotic mouthwash contains ingredients that can nourish the beneficial bacteria in the mouth. These mouthwashes can help to support a healthy oral microbiome and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. The Biotene Oral Rinse is a good example of a prebiotic mouthwash.
- Oral Probiotic Supplements: Oral probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can help to maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the mouth. These supplements can be especially helpful for people who are prone to dental problems, such as those with a history of cavities or gum disease. Hyperbiotics Pro-Dental is an often recommended brand for microbiome-based oral supplements.
Signs of Poor Microbiome Health
Your oral microbiome health is crucial as it significantly impacts your overall body health. It is crucial always to be on the lookout for any issues and signs that may point to poor microbiome health.
Here are some of the signs to watch out for that may indicate poor microbiome health:
Tips To Balance Your Oral Microbiome
Balancing your oral microbiome bacteria should be an important addition to your existing oral health regimen. Fortunately, it doesn’t involve overly complicated processes, and you can easily achieve optimal oral microbiome health.
Some of the most important tips to consider when balancing your oral microbiome include:
1- Have an improved oral hygiene
It is a no-brainer that the first and easiest way to protect the good bacteria in your mouth is by practicing proper oral hygiene. Following a strict regimen helps to promote a healthy balance for your oral microbiome.
Dental experts note that most traditional enablers of oral hygiene, like toothpaste and mouthwash, can kill bacteria in the mouth. This also includes good bacteria. This is why it is not advisable to overdo your regular dental hygiene regimen.
However, you can pick the best mouthwash which you can use regularly and won’t harm much of your oral ecosystem. Still, even when using oral microbiome mouthwash, ensure to use it responsibly.
For instance, it is okay to follow the standard and recommended technique of brushing and flossing twice a day. However, you should also consider the effects of brushing on oral microbiome. Overbrushing or using too many dental hygiene products may eventually bring more harm than good, as it will kill even the good bacteria, which you should let thrive.
You should also stay away from microbe-killing ingredients, such as detergent-based toothpaste, in your oral care routine.
You may consider using a tongue scraper, which helps to scrape away the bacteria from your tongue. In turn, this gives the good bacteria a chance to multiply and grow.
Remember to use a tongue scraper, but you can also consider other good options, especially after determining the best option for you on the electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush debate.
2- Add probiotics to your routine
Medical experts highly recommend probiotics as they can significantly help with your gut microbiomes. They are also proven to be helpful for your oral microbiome as well.
You can use foods and supplements that promote friendly bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotics also help to create a biofilm that can protect your oral cavity and reduce gum inflammation. Moreover, they are also known to prevent bad bacteria from penetrating your enamel, hence preventing and stopping decay.
Using probiotics also helps maintain a healthy oral pH balance and adds the relevant nutrients to make your saliva healthier, promoting enamel remineralization.
3- Consider nutrient-dense foods
There is a famous adage, “you are what you eat.” The same applies to your oral health and considering the addition of nutrient-dense foods to your diet can greatly improve your oral microbiome.
A diet with the right and enough nutrients can help the good bacteria to thrive.
Some of the popular foods that can help promote the growth and performance of the oral microbiome include:
As a rule of thumb, always drink plenty of water and avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates. Moreover, packaged or fast foods may not be helpful, as they do the opposite — supporting the growth and proliferation of the bad bacteria.
4- Promote the production of saliva
Saliva has an important role to play when boosting your oral microbiome. It helps carry minerals such as calcium and phosphorous through your oral cavity.
You need to maintain healthy saliva production in your oral ecosystem. This is because saliva can also become acidic, which can alter the balance of your oral microbiome and may also increase inflammation.
It is recommended to exercise more, drink plenty of water, and avoid stress to boost the production of saliva.
5- Regular dental checkups
Your dentist is in a better position to identify signs of poor oral microbiome, such as gum inflammation and increased plaque. They can easily run an oral microbiome test to determine how healthy your oral ecosystem is. By scheduling regular dental visits, you are able to spot and resolve the issues before they become worse.
Moreover, your dentist is better positioned to guide you on the best ways on how to improve oral microbiome.
6- Consider changing your toothpaste
You may consider an oral microbiome toothpaste that has hydroxyapatite instead of fluoride. Hydroxyapatite is a non-toxic ingredient proven to remineralize teeth much better and helps balance your oral microbiome.
This type of toothpaste makes it more difficult for bad bacteria to attach to your teeth and gums, and if used regularly, it can support a healthy oral microbiome. Giving this a try can help you to choose the best toothpaste for your needs.
7- Chew oral probiotics
You probably know about gut probiotics that help to maintain a positive bacterial balance throughout your gut.
Although such probiotics help to boost the gut microbiome, they may not be quite effective for the oral microbiome. This is because the oral microbiome has a different native bacterial strain, meaning it requires a different kind of supplement. You can use oral microbiome probiotics and supplements to restore healthy bacteria in your oral cavity.
8- Breath through your nose
Although this may not be a popular tip, it also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy balance for your oral bacteria.
Breathing with your nose helps to boost saliva production, which in turn, remineralizes teeth.
On the other hand, breathing from your mouth dries up your saliva, meaning you may not enjoy the benefits of sufficient saliva in your mouth and its impact on the oral microbiome.
9- Avoid alcohol and smoking
Alcohol can dehydrate your oral ecosystem and prevent sufficient production of saliva. Moreover, binge drinking completely disrupts the diversity of your oral microbiome, which enables the proliferation of bad and harmful bacteria.
Smoking, on the other hand, also disrupts saliva and also dries out the oral cavity, which is not good for your oral microbiome. To heal your oral microbiome, you may have to avoid alcohol and smoking.
10- Consider nitrate-rich and prebiotic foods
To boost your oral health with the oral microbiome, it is important to add certain nutrients that can be helpful for its proliferation.
Experts recommend that you eat, chew, or drink nitrate-rich and high-fiber vegetables like chard, fennel, celery, and beetroot to improve the oral microbiome. Moreover, you should also consider prebiotic foods to feed the probiotic oral bacteria. Such foods may include nuts and fruits.
Granulicatella, Gemella, Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Staphylococcus, Veillonella, and Lactobacillus are the most common bacteria in the oral microbiome.
Climate can affect our oral microbiome by changing the temperature, humidity, and air quality, which can alter the growth and composition of oral bacteria.
Changes in the oral microbiome can lead to bad breath (halitosis) due to the overgrowth of certain bacteria that produce foul-smelling compounds.
Antibiotics can disrupt the oral microbiome's balance by killing off harmful and beneficial bacteria. This can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and increase the risk of oral health problems.