Bacteria Are (Mostly) Our Friends: How Oral and Whole-Body Health Are Connected

Kourosh Maddahi, DDS
Photo by Graham Beards.


Photo by Graham Beards.

We have to do away with the notion that one part of our body isn’t connected to the rest of it. The body is an entity with many working parts that all work together. Now that maintaining the body’s overall health and balance is more important than ever, we must stop our antibacterial obsession and instead focus more deeply on cultivating a healthy microbiome.

What Is a Microbiome?

A microbiome is a complex network of bacteria, fungi, and, yes, even viruses that work 24/7 to keep us safe from foreign bodies. Bacteria in the body’s microbiomes have been linked with serotonin production, complex vitamin production, and hormone regulation.

In fact, your microbiome, not your immune system, acts as the body’s first line of defense against illness, infection, and disease. It is only when microbiomes have been compromised that the immune system needs to kick into gear.

Microbiomes exist in our gut, on our skin, in our eyes, in our nose and ears, in the birth canal, and, of course, in the mouth. And even though some major oral care manufacturers boast that their products kill 99.9% of all “germs,” the mass majority of bacteria that make up your oral microbiome are extremely good for you. When we start wiping out the bacteria in the mouth, we create an opening for a toxic overload that will impact your oral health as well as your whole body’s health.

Your mouth is like Manhattan—prime real estate for bacteria. When your oral microbiome is balanced and in its most natural state, 98% percent of its bacteria are protecting you from infection, inflammation, and toxicity. It’s crowded in there too, so there is little room for bad bacteria to move in.

But antibacterial oral care products are akin to atom bombs going off in your mouth. Antibacterial agents don’t discriminate, and there is no way to only target bad bacteria, so we lose the good residents with the bad.

Suddenly, lots of real estate is available, and you have no control over who moves in next. This leaves your mouth (and your oral microbiome) vulnerable, as it is now open to any and every bacterium, including dangerous superbugs.

To make matters even more worrisome, the next time you try and use an antibacterial product to eliminate those new inhabitants, they will have an even higher likelihood of surviving because there will be more of them than there were before. And on and on it goes.

Potential Preventive Treatment

Outside of antibacterial oral care products, the foods we chew and how well they are digested (thanks to healthy saliva) also play a part in our microbiomes and, thus, in our overall health.

One of my most exciting discoveries was the difference in gum inflammation (a sign of a compromised immune system) between patients who ate an organic, mostly plant-based diet and those who did not. I believe the key here is the lack of antibiotics, pesticides, and other harsh chemicals in their daily diets.

When inflammation is present in the body for long periods of time, the body’s immune system becomes taxed, and our viral load may be increased. Once a virus has become “active” in the body, meaning it has multiplied enough to become destructive, it can only go dormant from that time on and is then capable of being triggered active again at any time throughout its host’s life.

One of the best ways to avoid an increased viral load in the body is to minimize immune system engagement whenever possible. One of the greatest ways to do that is to protect our microbiomes and keep inflammation down. The best way to keep inflammation down in the mouth is to practice good oral hygiene, remove as many harmful chemicals from your diet as possible, and reduce day-to-day stress wherever you can.

When I first began my career in dentistry, I knew very little about the oral microbiome, and I certainly did not know about the extreme toxicity of most oral care products. As growing research surrounding probiotics’ benefit to the gut mounted, I began to think the same science may also be true for the mouth, which led me to years of research, product development, and several books on the subject.

One can improve the bacterial health of the mouth and the entire body through simple diet, product, and lifestyle changes. In improving and protecting the health of our oral bacteria, we can in turn strengthen our bodies’ defensive responses, increase energy levels, reduce inflammation, and return to a more natural state of whole-body health. No sanitizer necessary.

Dr. Maddahi is a board-certified dentist in Beverly Hills. After completing his dental degree at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, he opened his practice in 1987 and has since had more than 15,000 patients walk through his doors. He is the founder of Luminuex Oral Essentials, the only certified non-toxic, microbiome-safe, and clinically proven line of oral care products backed by 50 clinical and laboratory studies. He also is the author of The Toxic Overload: The Truth About Your Body’s Natural Defenses and How to Experience Whole-Body Health

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