You’ll be surprised to hear our mouth plays a vital role in our overall health and can even tell us what’s going on in other areas of our body! As it turns out, our mighty mouth is home to literally trillions of micro-organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses, making the oral microbiota very complex and abundant – second only to the gut. While gut health has been making waves, mouth health is right around the corner. Naturopath Holly Samson shares how to protect your mouth microbiome and what you need to know for good health.
Firstly, what can our tongue tell us about our health?
The tongue can give us valuable clues as to the overall health of the body, with its connection to the internal organs. It can reveal signs of disease and imbalance that we may not be aware of yet. That’s why in complementary medicine, the tongue is examined for its texture, color, and shape.
What can your tongue tell you about your health?
The tongue can give a few tell-tale signs as to the homeostasis in our body. A normal tongue should be pink in color, with a slight white coating and covered with small nodules. Here’s what your tongue may be telling you about your health:
Weakened immunity: When the immune and digestive system is depleted, a thicker white coating will appear on your tongue.
Yeast infection: White spots on the tongue can show as a sign of oral thrush – a yeast infection often due to excess sugar consumption or as a result of antibiotic treatment.
Fluid retention: A common indication of fluid retention is a scalloped tongue with ridges on the edge.
Vitamin B deficiencies: A bright red tongue can be due to B vitamin deficiencies, along with cheilosis (cracks in the corners of the mouth) which can be specific to B2 deficiency.
Gastrointestinal issues: Seep cracks in the tongue are seen as a predisposition to gastrointestinal issues.”
What does bad breath reallymean?
Bad breath, medically known as halitosis, can be attributed to a variety of causes such as gum disease and poor oral hygiene. Of course, dental hygiene comes first, however often the underlying health challenge usually lies beyond the mouth. For example, smelly breath is a strong indicator of dysbiosis, an imbalance of the gut bacteria, where yeast or candida can be present.
The importance of proper teeth brushing is widely known — twice per day and after meals, to reduce bacteria debris build-up. However, choosing the right toothpaste is equally as imperative to ensure we’re protecting our mouths microbiome and we aren’t overloading the body with unnecessary toxins. With our gums absorbing all of the ingredients we put into our mouths, we need to read the labels and become familiar with the harmful additives in many toothpastes and mouthwashes such as Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), fluoride and alcohol. Fluoride assists with tooth decay but long-term exposure to the chemical can lead to fluorosis, and we generally obtain enough fluoride through other sources daily (water and our diet). I recommend you always invest in oral products that are natural to protect your mouth’s microbiome and to reduce your impact on the environment. I recommend The Natural Family Co and Jack N’ Jill for little ones.