As a family dentist in Castle Rock, our team at Glow Comprehensive Dentistry spend a lot more time thinking about saliva than your average person. That’s because saliva acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against harmful oral bacteria that contributes to the development of dental decay and disease. When the body fails to adequate produce enough saliva to flush the mouth of these damaging substances – a condition commonly referred to as dry mouth – an individual has a significantly higher risk of developing tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
But did you know that the average person ingests roughly 1.5 liters of saliva a day. While not that remarkable on its own, that saliva contains bacteria that could possibly have harmful effect on our health, according to the results of a new study.
Based on data collected by researchers from Waseda University in Japan, the study discovered oral microbes were more commonly found in the stomachs of patients suffering from a range of disease that included inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, and HIV when compared to healthy individuals.
Researchers caution that while an association was found in their study, no cause and effect relationship was established. The results of the study were published in the October issue of Science.
A Curious Connection
At the beginning of their study, researchers wanted to investigate the relationship between salivary microbes and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). They discovered that when the bacteria Klebsiella pneumoniae colonizes in an intestine that has an imbalance of microbes, immune cells known at T helper 1 (TH1) becomes overactive in the stomach, resulting in the intestinal inflammation that causes IBD. The findings of researchers suggest a significant association between a healthy stomach ecosystem and oral bacteria, which provides new insights into microbiome research.
The insights obtained by researchers from their study encouraged them to develop a unique type of treatment for IBD. Specifically, researchers administered salivary samples taken from individuals that suffered from IBD and those who did not to mice. After six to eight weeks, researchers examined the microbial content of samples collected from the mice and found the evidence of 20 kinds of oral bacteria were present. Additionally, immunological analysis found that the level of TH1 cells, which could indicate the onset of an autoimmune disease when elevated, were significantly increased in some of the mice.
To determine which type of bacteria was responsible for increasing TH1 cell counts in the mice, researchers ran additional testing and found that Klebsiella pneumoniae was the primary inducer of TH1 cell growth.
Klebsiella pneumoniae is a normal resident of a healthy mouth, but as shown in this study, these bacteria can also colonize in the stomach and stimulate the production of TH1 cells in certain cases. What then becomes key is for individuals to maintain a healthy balance of microbes in their oral biome.
Better Oral Hygiene Means Better Oral Health
So what does all of this mean? To put it simply, the better you take care of your oral health through brushing and flossing, the healthier you’ll be.
While this sounds simple, most people don’t yet fully realize just how big an impact their oral health can have on their overall health. For many people, brushing and flossing only has to do with the health of their teeth and gums. They don’t know that an overabundance of a potentially healthy bacteria can lead to inflammation when built up in the stomach.
This is why your family dentist in Castle Rock always strives to inform our patients about the importance of never neglecting the health of your teeth and gums. So even though brushing may only seem to help improve your smile, the truth is far more complicated