The oral microbiome is implicated in many systemic illness such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, respiratory infections along with cognitive decline with the common link being inflammation. 

When bacteria forms on our teeth (dental plaque) this bacteria can lead to a high pathogenic load and disrupt the oral microbiome causing inflammation and dysregulation of the immune response system.  We are probably more aware of this bacterial overgrowth leading to diseases such as periodontitis and dental caries but this bacteria can transfer into the bloodstream and reach other organs including the heart, liver and brain. In brain tissue, oral bacteria can cause neuroinflammation and damage to neuronal cells, which, over time contributes to cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Peridontal disease manifests as the accumulation of Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) in the mouth and formation of biofilm on oral tissue surfaces. Peridontal disease is more common in adults aver 65 with as many as 70% of the population affected. P. gingivalis can lead to inflammation and immune system dysregulation. 

Bacteria in the oral cavity can spread via the lymphatic and vascular systems infecting tissue within the brain. P. gingivalis can enter the bloodstream when localized trauma occurs from brushing, flossing, and chewing. 

Nutrition plays a key role in maintaining healthy oral microbiome.  Nutrients such as Vitamin C, D, Calcium and phosphorus are important.  Also food sources that have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-bacterial properties against P. gingivalis include green tea, curcumin, cranberries, pomegranate, mango and resveratrol from red grapes and wine. Probiotic rich foods or an oral probiotic containing Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus and Streptococcus are beneficial. 

Improving oral health not only with nutrition but daily practices including brushing and flossing daily to twice a day.  Oil pulling for 8-10 minutes a day with the use of either a teaspoon of coconut oil or sesame oil swishing in the mouth is another beneficial way to enhance oral health. 

Oral hygiene is an important lifestyle factor that needs to start at an early age and maintained throughout life.  When addressing early manifestations of disease originating in the mouth can help maintain proper health throughout the lifespan. 

Ten Simple Sustainable Steps for a Balanced Brain

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