We have diverse microbial ecosystems all over our bodies, from gut, skin, vagina and the mouth to name just a few. Gut (intestines) microbiome is quite a hot topic at the moment, for some years we’ve been hearing about “Leaky Gut Syndrome” the commensal (friendly) bacteria in our gut which contribute to our health as a whole, but disrupt our health when they dislocate to areas outside our intestines.
Our mouths have their own microbial ecosystem which, not surprisingly, contributes greatly to the population that live in the gut, the mouth being the first port of call in the GI tract. We thrive on a balanced system of microbes to support our own oral health but when that balance is disrupted, so too is our the health of our mouth, and more importantly, our gums. The gums are an important barrier for stopping bacteria dislocating from the mouth to the rest of our system, and the efficiency of our gums can be greatly effected by how much attention we give them! If our oral hygiene is not up to scratch pathogens can become prolific causing a “leaky mouth” which, like leaky gut syndrome, means microbes translocate to places they shouldn’t!
Cleaning your teeth at night, and in the morning, are things most of us do without even noticing, but good oral hygiene is so much more. I’m an acupuncturist, not a dentist, but I do know that to support a healthy oral microbiome, we should use an electric toothbrush for 2 minutes, floss between our teeth, as a minimum, and maybe even swish our mouth out afterwards (but not with an alcohol based mouthwash as this will clear out the beneficial microbes too)! It’s important for everyone, but why is it especially important if you are trying to conceive or pregnant?
- When pregnant the mother’s immune system is preparing the baby for the world, the mothers oral microbiota are translocated to the baby via the blood stream and the placenta as first colonisers. If they are healthy this is a good thing, but infections can be translocated too which can be dangerous. Research is new and ongoing but miscarriages and pre-term births have been linked to microbes of an infected quality.
- Progesterone (often given during IVF cycles) relaxes and smooths the muscles and therefore tissue becomes more susceptible to leaky gums.
Regular dental check ups, and a vegetable rich diet (of course) is really important and watch out for bleeding gums, this is a sign that the this layer of cells that make our gums can start to experience ‘holes’ and a space for microbes to quickly escape from the mouth and slip into the bloodstream. Thankfully, good oral hygiene is not difficult, or expensive to achieve and should be part of preconception care.
I’ve been doing training with Invivo recently. They are specialists in human microbiomes and supply testing and supplements. Feel free to ask me more.