By Michael A. Smith, MD
For the first time, doctors started to think of your mouth as a tool for seeding vital organs with disease-causing bacteria. Soon there was an explosion of research confirming Dr. Miller’s initial discovery that bacteria from your mouth are associated with disease throughout your body.1
So what does all of this mean? Well, don’t forget to take care of your teeth and gums if living a healthy life is your goal. That may seem like a silly thing to say, but according the CDC, people generally aren’t taking good care of their mouths.
CDC: Poor Oral Hygiene is CommonThe National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the CDC, prepared a report using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2008. Here are the report's key findings:
- 20% of children aged 5 to 11 and 13% of teens between the ages of 12 and 19 had at least one untreated cavity.
- 25% of adults between the ages of 20 and 44 had at least one untreated cavity.
- 20% of adults over 65 had at least one untreated cavity.
- 39% of children and 52% of teens had a dental restoration, such as a filling or root canal.
- Restoration rates were nearly 90% for adults over 65.
CoQ10 is Good for Your GumsThe antioxidant CoQ10 aids energy production in the body. Research has found that people with gum disease are often significantly deficient in CoQ10.2 Initial evidence suggests that topical CoQ10 supplements may be effective in slowing gum disease by reducing bleeding and swelling.3
While additional research is needed, the consensus is that CoQ10 helps supply the energy needed for the body to heal and repair mouth tissue.
Xylitol Prevents Bacterial GrowthPure xylitol is a white crystalline substance that resembles and tastes like sugar. It is found naturally in fruits such as plums, strawberries, and raspberries. Xylitol is used commercially to sweeten sugarless gum and candies.
It has 40% fewer calories than regular sugar and appears to have none of sugar’s negative effects on insulin release.4 It is also believed to prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans.5
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 2,630 children compared a standard fluoride toothpaste with one that also contained 10% xylitol. Over a three-year period, children given the xylitol-enriched toothpaste developed notably fewer cavities than those using the fluoride-only toothpaste.6
Lactoferrin Heals Mouth UlcersLactoferrin, a naturally occurring antimicrobial agent, is found in saliva and gingival fluid, as well as in breast milk, tears, and other bodily fluids. Lactoferrin may bind to and slow the growth of periodontitis-associated bacteria.7 In an animal study, locally applied lactoferrin powder appeared to support the healing of oral lesions.8
Tea Tree Oil Eases Gum InflammationA recent study in the Australian Dental Journal showed that a toothpaste gel containing tea tree oil, used twice daily, reduces the presence of gingivitis compared to placebo.9 Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties may be responsible for its effects in promoting oral health.
Squalene Promotes Healthy Cell GrowthExtracted from shark liver oil, squalene has been embraced for its antioxidant properties. Squalene has been used as an adjunct therapy in the management of some cancers. A recent study found high doses of squalene to be beneficial against bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.10
Are You Minding Your Mouth?There are many ways to improve your health: eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and periodically visiting your doctor. Health-conscious adults should certainly add proper oral hygiene to this list of health fundamentals.
Oral hygiene is a simple way to improve your well-being today and greatly increase your chances of enjoying a healthy, disease-free future. Are you minding your mouth?
- Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 May 15;50(10):1336-43. Epub 2011 Feb 24.
- Gaby AR. Coenzyme Q10. In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. Seattle, WA: Bastyr University Press; 1998.
- Mol Aspects Med. 1994;15 Suppl:s241-8.
- Diabetologia. 1982 Jun;22(6):480-2.
- Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2004 Dec;35(4):1024-7.
- Am J Dent. 1995 Oct;8(5):231-5.
- Oral Microbiol Immunol. 1991 Dec;6(6):350-5.
- J Small Anim Pract. 2003 Apr;44(4):172-6.
- Aust Dent J. 2004 Jun;49(2):78-83.
- Pol Merkuriusz Lek. 2005 Jun;18(108):686-92.
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