According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the term “lifestyle” can be defined as, “a general way of living which is based on the interplay between living conditions and individual patterns of behavior as determined by socio-cultural factors and personal characteristics.”
What many individuals tend to forget, however, is just how important the lifestyle they live is regarding not only their physical health, but also their mental and emotional health and well-being.
Any certified healthcare professional will be the first to tell you that a number of lifestyle factors can hold significant sway over the course of your body’s overall health.
For instance, think about how stressful the events of the COVID-19 pandemic were and how that stress may have affected or impacted your health. If you’re experiencing a lot of chronic stress, that is going to relate to your overall oral health, including the acidity levels in your system as well as how many cavities you end up getting.
Since stress reduces salivary flow in your mouth, this means that you don’t have the washing away effect saliva normally provides your body’s oral health. This can then lead to you experiencing a buildup of bacteria in your mouth which can cause inflammation along with an inability to neutralize the acidity of the oral cavity.
In addition, our bodies’ ability to consume good bacteria can stop bad bacteria from entering the stomach and ending up within the digestive tract. To put it more simply, an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria in your mouth can cause a disruption of the brain-gut axis, wreaking havoc on the body’s digestive health as well as our mental health.
A large number of studies have shown that the oral microbial community and intestinal microbiota may be related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. This association may be direct (e.g., pathogenic or harmful bacteria may directly invade the brain) or indirect (e.g., pathogenic bacteria may trigger whole-body inflammation, leading to central nervous system inflammation).
In either case, this disruption is brought about via bad bacteria entering our bodies through our mouths.
Now that we have a better understanding of the connection between our lifestyles and their impact on our oral health, here are some basic steps you can take to improve it.
Combine vitamin D3 with calcium and magnesium supplements
Unless you’re very active about your health through lifestyle and diet, most people aren’t getting the critical minerals and vitamins found naturally through diet.
Sometimes, one of the best solutions is to supplement, especially with vitamin D3 (5,000 IUs daily). Vitamin D levels can be checked by a simple blood test from your doctor.
Combining D3 with magnesium and calcium will work together to help not only with your bone health, but also dental health by helping to remineralize your teeth.
Calcium, which is needed for strong, healthy teeth, cannot be absorbed without D3. If enough calcium is not absorbed through diet, the body will steal from bones and teeth to get it. However, calcium supplementation without magnesium results in soft enamel, as magnesium is needed to activate vitamin D.
Supplements and probiotics for microbiome balance
Other supplements, like the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, are extremely helpful in absorbing the vitamins your body needs to help your teeth rebuild themselves and strengthen your enamel.
Taking probiotics is one way to help reestablish microbiome balance and is actually good for your entire GI tract, which goes through the gut and your mouth to bring a more balanced bacterial population.
Toothpastes and flossers to remineralize teeth
Hydroxyapatite or fluoride toothpastes, like the Risewell and Hello brands, can also help to remineralize the teeth. Using alcohol-free mouthwash or coconut oil-pull is preferred since alcohol dries out your mouth.
Daily use of traditional floss, including Risewell’s Hydroxyapatite floss or a water-flosser, like Philips Sonicare AirFloss Ultra, can help to disturb the populations of bacteria and encourage the good kinds to thrive.
Finally, tongue scraping is another great tool to help reduce oral bacterial load and reduce salivary acidity.
The health of each element of our bodies is all related. Chronic stress ultimately leads to inflammation in your mouth which creates a more welcoming environment for the bad bacteria that can reside within deep gum pockets, potentially causing oral issues such as periodontal disease. They may also enter the bloodstream cause problems in other parts of the body.
If you lead a lifestyle that is either inherently more stressful or prone to higher levels of stress, this can lead to a buildup of bad oral bacteria. This can translate to health problems like abdominal discomfort, unexpected weight gains or difficulty losing weight around your midsection, as well as fatigue, mood changes and lasting skin conditions.
Dr. Karaneh Jahan
Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a healthcare professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.