The gut microbiome has become a burning issue in medicine and wellness in 2021 but how there’s also a new focus on other crucial microbiomes in our body.
WHAT IS THE MICROBIOME?
The “microbiome” refers to ALL the bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in and on our bodies. And now the mouth, vaginal and skin microbiomes are getting major, overdue attention – with new approaches and products aimed at rebalancing the disrupted microbiota in these crucial ecosystems.
One clear, fast-moving trend: new approaches that tackle the mouth-body connection and the oral microbiome.
DEFINITION OF MOUTH MICROBIOME
The mouth microbiome is the second-largest after the gut, home to 20 billion microorganisms and 700+ different bacterial species. While bad bacteria cause tooth decay and gum disease, both modern dental “hygiene” (which has for decades been blasting our mouths with “germ-killing” toothpastes and mouthwashes) and our modern lifestyles (carb-and-sugar-heavy diets and stress) can decimate our mouth ecology.
A disrupted mouth microbiome hurts the immune system, and there has been a flurry of recent research indicating it’s the path to premature ageing and many diseases.
Studies reveal a powerful mouth-gut axis and how oral microbiota disturbances are the gateway to gut inflammation. One new study showed that an unhealthy oral microbiome is linked to rheumatoid arthritis, while another found that a species of oral bacteria (Enterococcus) was one of the greatest predictors of COVID-19 infection and severity.
The future: decoding the oral microbiota to enable personalised testing, which will power a whole new era of dental/medical and natural therapeutics.
It means goodbye to harsh detergent-and-alcohol-heavy oral products that destroy the mouth microbiome (even the natural ones with microbiome-harming essential oils). It means hello to more solutions that work to re-optimise the mouth microbiome.
It means new interest in the ancient medicines of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, which have made the mouth/tongue and overall health connection for thousands of years, and interest in functional foods as oral microbiome solutions: For instance, a new study suggests that beetroot juice (and other foods such as spinach and celery) promote a mix of mouth bacteria associated with healthier blood vessels and brain function because they are full of inorganic nitrate.
UNDERSTANDING PREVENTIVE DENTISTRY
Experts agree that the ways dentistry has been siloed from both medicine and wellness is not only bizarre but has had significant negative health impacts. A new holistic, preventive dentistry wants to put the health of the oral microbiome at the centre while also putting the “mouth back in medicine.” There is no doubt that oral care is getting a major “wellness rethink” and that the chic, dentist-created products are spawning. And it’s an opportunity for the wellness world to put the “mouth back in wellness,” too.