This is the latest addition to our series on managing recurring infections without the use of antibiotics. Our focus this time is oral health, oral protocols for hygiene and the relationship between your mouth and systemic health.
I’m going to get straight to the point – your gumline provides entry into many important vascular channels including, but not limited to, the pharyngeal, maxiliary, facial, lingual and palantine arteries. Furthermore, the pathogenic activity in your mouth is intrinsically linked to the activity in throughout your gut, therefore the health of one affects the health of the other. Since your digestive tract is the primary playground for microbial activity, activity which is apparently problematic in those with the persisting issues, we need to make observations and apply efforts to every aspect of that tract.
This one is simple. You shouldn’t brush immediately after eating food, as your teeth will be more easily damaged if your mouth is very acidic. Rinse with water after you eat and allow some time for saliva to be produced.
The first, and most obvious, aspect to oral health is removing the food in your mouth. We understand that certain types of bacteria, such as streptococcus mutans, feed on glucose utilizing a metabolism which damages tooth enamel. This is in line with the observation that many types of pathogenic activity are glycolytic, therefore this gives us yet another reason to keep glucose intake or, at the very least, residual glucose prevalence, to a minimum.
Let’s address a very simple issue – what comes first? Brushing or flossing? Most seem to floss after brushing, but this is nonsensical. If you make the effort to wash over the surface of your teeth by brushing a foaming paste and rinsing it out of the mouth, such an effort is wasted if you immediately follow that up by breaking out all the bits of food that managed to stay hidden between those teeth. The correct choice is to floss first and THEN brush and rinse all the food out of your mouth completely.
Is it necessary to use a harsh rinse to destroy all the bacteria in the mouth? It depends – If your bacterial activity is under control and you have a healthy oral ecology, then it’s probably not necessary and can even be detrimental. The individuals this series pertains to, however, have higher risk of bacterial issues therefore it’s possible their oral microbiome favours higher numbers of the buggers that have been feeding on sugar and damaging teeth. If you have recurring periodontal/gum issues, then it may be favourable to include the use of an anti-bacterial rinsing component as part of your oral health protocol. In most other cases, however, it is best left out, especially if it is only being maintained in order to control “bad breath”, which will be best rectified by the last component addressed in this article.
On that note, if you have decided to rinse – what should you use? There are many options, including alcohol-based, eucalyptus-based, chlorohexidine-based and oxidizer-based rinses (such as peroxide and chlorine dioxide). The fact of the matter is that they will all kill bacteria, but they have different properties which make some more desirable than others.
Alcohol-based and eucalyptus-based rinses are effective at killing bacteria, but leave the mouth dry, delaying saliva and enzyme production, which is conducive to bacterial regrowth.
Oxidizer-based rinses are also effective at killing bacteria, and have the additional benefit of penetrating a bit deeper below the gumline, which can be beneficial for those aiming to control periodontal issues without the utility of more targeted approaches of administration, but oxidizers can be harsh to the enamel if they aren’t diluted enough. Since oxidizers can be potentially more damaging than other rinses, it may be wise to follow up the rinse with a small sip of some antioxidant tea (preferably something light, which won’t stain teeth). Oxidizers tend to be most active on the more acidic side of the spectrum, therefore they should be followed up by the last component (oil rinsing).
Chlorohexidine-based rinses are equally effective at killing bacteria, but are associated with tooth-staining through interactions with other compounds and oral tissue sensitivity. Chlorohexidine rinses tend to be found on the more alkaline end of the spectrum, therefore they might be more preferable in situations where the last component (oil rinsing) cannot be used.
The last component to oral health is one which seems to be poorly understood, and that is of oil-rinsing. There is a lot of rhetoric on this subject, with much of it being referenced through the label of “oil-pulling”. This is, perhaps, a misnomer, and part of the problem: the idea touted by alternative practitioners is often explained as being used to draw toxins (toxic metals and poisons, such as dioxin), and pathogenic organisms, out from the teeth, gums, saliva and surrounding tissues. I’m sorry to say, but there is no scientific evidence for this, although there seems to be some new scientific studies from India which propose modes of action which were previously not thought of which might explain the potential to draw out some toxic metals (the irrefutable evidence is still missing, however). That doesn’t mean this process is completely useless, however. In fact, it might be an extremely essential component for two reasons: the antimicrobial effect of certain fatty acids, and the catalyzing of a healthy “homeostatic” environment in the mouth.
Antimicrobial effect: certain fatty acids have been proven to have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral effects – this is further facilitated by the fact that the viscous nature of the oil will cause it to remain in trace amounts for quite some time after rinsing, keeping bacterial regrowth at bay for an extended period.
Homeostatic facilitation: The fatty acids themselves and the pH of the certain oils helps to stimulate enzyme-rich saliva production, which is necessary to induce a healthy microbiological demographic in the mouth as well as the repair of tooth enamel.
Balanced/Clean Mouth => Flossing => Brushing => Anti-bacterial Rinsing (optional)=> Oil-rinsing
Seems like a lot of work, but, if optimal cleanliness and recovery is required, then it is the best protocol that can be recommended, in my opinion.