NEW AWARENESS IN THE MOUTH-BODY HEALTH LINK
With the results of the Human Microbiome Project recently revealed1, new light has been cast on the widespread effects of the oral microbiome. The concept that disease is based on a state of microbial dysbiosis when the normal symbiotic relationship is altered can be applied to numerous body locations. One example of dysbiosis in the oral cavity occurs when keystone microbes such as the "Poryphyromonas gingivalis" multiply, eventually leading to periodontitis if balance is not restored. Although P. gingivalis originates in the oral cavity, this microbe has been shown to readily translocate to the gut by swallowing, subsequently resulting in a dysbiotic state in the gut. Several systemic conditions have been attributed to gut dysbiosis such as inflammatory bowel disease, cirrhosis of the liver, etc.2
THE ORAL CAVITY IS THE GATEWAY TO THE BODY
The oral cavity has long been recognized as the gateway to the rest of the body and is considered an important part of our defense system. Periodontitis is the result of a sustained dysbiosis of the oral microbiome manifesting in destruction of the periodontium including recession of both the bone and the gingival tissues. This recession exposes the root surface and is one of the most common causes of dentinal hypersensitivity.3 As oral health professionals, one of our primary goals is prevention, which includes sustaining both oral and overall health.
HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN GOOD PERIODONTAL HEALTH AND AMELIORATE DENTAL HYPERSESNTIVITY?
Good oral hygiene has been shown to alter a dysbiotic oral microbiome, thus restoring a state of symbiosis and, at the same time, controlling the multiplication and potential spread of keystone pathogens such as P. gingivalis, to the gut. The damage caused by periodontitis, however, is irreversible and patients require assistance with controlling tooth senstivity. Products like Crest's new Gum & Senstivity toothpaste, not only help sustain gum health by helping reduce plaque and reverse gingivitis with their Stannous Flouride composition, but with the InstaShieldTM formula*, can quickly treat and help prevent root sensitivity.4
Our responsibility as oral health professionals is to educate patients on how their oral health affects their overall health and counsel them to take an active role in preventing gum disease and sensitivity. Dr. Salme Lavigne (White Rock, BC) RDH, PhD (Senior Scholar, College of Dentistry, University of Manitoba)