Healthy mouth = healthy brain

Research released this week showed a potential link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s, and there is growing evidence of the link between chronic oral inflammation and general health, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory infections.

 In fact, research would suggest that those with good oral health require less health care.

One of the questions I ask clients is about their dental work, as we’ve known for a while now that mercury fillings and crowns can have an impact on health, but also that certain ingredients found in our everyday tooth and mouth products have ingredients that can create toxicity or affect our health.

 “Over extended periods of time, small daily doses of multiple contaminants have cumulative detrimental effects on physiologic pathways that can eventually impair health and causes disease”

Mary Ellen S. Chalmers, DMD

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What can affect oral health?

Metals

From: mercury amalgams and crowns, titanium implants and orthodontic appliances. 

This was described to me at some functional medicine training as like a battery in the mouth, when different metals are used to fill cavities, and that this can create an adverse reaction caused by the release of metal ions or other products.

Rather scarily, there has even been some evidence that those with mercury fillings, when exposed to radio-frequency radiation emitted from Wi-Fi devices, can increase mercury release from the fillings!

Plastics

From: BPA, BPS and phthalates from composite fillings and resins used in night guards and retainers

All of these can leach into the mouth, a bit like the plastic from plastic water bottles that can leak into the water.  Why should it be any different when you put plastic in your mouth overnight?  Ok, it is in infinitesimally small levels, but the challenge is it is one more thing that adds to what we call your ‘toxic burden’.

Oral health ingredients

These are just a few that lurk in our toothpastes and mouthwashes:

  • Triclosan – this is used as an antibacterial and antifungal agent, but it can impede thyroid function and may contribute to antibiotic resistance.  In the UK this is found in Colgate toothpaste.

  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS) – this is what makes toothpaste foam (and shampoos!).  It can create chronic oral lesions such as mouth ulcers and sloughing of mucosa.  Pretty much found in all main brand toothpastes

  • Artificial sweeteners – ingredients such as saccharine and aspartame which are often used in commercial toothpastes.  There is growing research into the impact of artificial sweeteners on the gut (and oral) microbiome and that it may even affect neurotransmitter (brain chemical) signalling.

  • Propylene glycol – is a type of mineral oil that, in the industrial grade, is used in antifreeze, paints, enamels, and airplane de-icers and is found in some toothpastes such as Oral B

  • Alcohol-based mouthwashes – dries out the mouth tissues and disrupts the oral microbiome

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So what are some healthier alternatives?

Toothpaste

Some more natural brands include:

  • Weleda – they do a range for both kids and adults

  • Dr Bronner – I’m already a fan of their soaps and cleaning products

  • Green People – organic and SLS-free, also with a kids range

 Mouthwash

 Tongue scraping

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Do not use your toothbrush to scrape or brush your tongue!  All you ae doing is pushing the bad bacteria around the mouth.  You need a tongue scraper so that you can literally scrape the unwanted debris on the tongue forward and out of the mouth.

I’ve been recommending these copper tongue scrapers to my clients for years, and have used them myself, as they are naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial.

 

So, clean up your mouth by cleaning up not just your diet but your oral hygiene products too.  All the small changes you make help ease any toxic burden on the body and will add up overall to have a much bigger positive impact on your health.