It’s well known that the food we eat influences the makeup of the bacteria in our mouths. This oral microbiome relies on both good and bad bacteria, and plays a larger role in our overall health. Studies show that oral bacteria can change the gut’s microbiota and how your body absorbs nutrients.
The University of Buffalo conducted a study that looked at the oral health of postmenopausal women and the effect of a sugary, high-glycemic diet on their oral microbiome. This study used data from Women’s Health Initiative and was the first study to examine carbohydrate intake and sub gingival microbiome. This means that they took plaque from under the tongue (instead of saliva). Amy Millen, PhD, says that “…oral bacteria involved in periodontal disease are primarily residing in the subgingival plaque.”
The study showed that there was a positive association between high carbohydrate, glycemic foods and Streptococcus mutans, a contributor to tooth decay and some types of cardiovascular disease. The scientists also observed Leptotrichia spp., which has been linked to gingivitis, to be positively associated with sugar intake.
How can you improve your oral microbiome and overall health? Well, mouthwash after eating may not be the answer. According to MGB Heath, “Oral bacteria are important for gut and metabolic health, so you don’t want to sweep them all away with an antiseptic mounthwash.”
Since the oral microbiome is the “portal to gut health,” it requires both good and bad bacteria for optimal performance. You don’t want to destroy that with a mouthwash that would kill the majority of all of the bacteria in your mouth. Instead, lower your intake of carbohydrates and sugar. Prevotella (a species of oral bacteria) comes from leafy greens and is essential for converting nitrates into nitrites. Those nitrites play a major role in brain health, metabolic health, blood flow and immunity.