For both mental and physical health, research tells us we need diversity in our gut’s microbiome. Until recently, I didn’t realize there was another microbiome. Once I heard about it, it made sense. Dentists have been telling us for years that a lot of health concerns start or are reflected in our mouths.
Without saying a word, our mouth tells us a lot about ourselves.
Let’s learn a bit about this new language.
Hint for this week: People on the autism spectrum have a different oral microbiome to the general population.
Hint for next week: the possible relationship between an unhealthy oral microbiome and covid, and how to have a healthier oral microbiome.
My mouth is full of decayed teeth and my soul of decayed ambitions.
Introducing: your oral microbiome!
The oral cavity houses many communities of microorganisms, including about 700 hundred species of bacteria in addition to fungi, protozoa and viruses. Different parts of the mouth, such as the teeth, throat, tongue, cheek, hard and soft palates, floor of the mouth, and the gingival sulcus (an area of potential space between a tooth and the surrounding gingival tissue) have slightly different environments. Each environment favours its own microorganisms.
These microorganisms have many functions, such as the digestion of food, supporting the mucosa and its immune system, and preventing the entrance and growth of disease.
An unhealthy microbiome has been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
At least not yet, there’s been no association between food allergies and the oral microbiome.
Picky eaters and the oral microbiome: According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (founder of the GAP Diet), if our oral microbiome is out of balance, some of the microorganisms can release toxins that are then stored in the mucus membranes. These toxins might affect such things as the taste receptors and salivary glands. These changes can lead to a child wanting sweet, bland, starchy, and easy-to-eat foods. These foods support the imbalance and the issue worsens. No supporting research could be found for this theory.
As with the gut microbiome, people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were found to have less diversity in the oral microbiome. It was so consistent, one paper suggested it could become part of the profile for diagnosing ASD.
The Oral Cavity’s Connection to or Influence on Our Brains
The connection between our oral cavity and our brains isn’t difficult to imagine, especially when you think of the direct physical relationship between the oral and nasal cavities, and between the nasal cavity and the brain.
The central nervous system (CNS) which includes the brain is often inflamed in people diagnosed with ASD.
One cause of the brain’s inflammation is it’s reaction to pathogens, specifically in this theory, oral-based microorganisms.
This inflammation can cause synaptic transmission (communication between neurons) to malfunction.
In addition to a possible incorrect communication of information during synaptic transmission, the malfunction may release vasopressin. Vasopressin can affect social behaviour.
And no, I didn’t find a study that tested the theory in its entirety but it’s not an unreasonable supposition.
Since we are focusing on the mouth, if you or someone you know needs to chew, check out our chewies.
Next week: healthifying our oral microbiome (I'm not sure I've ever heard that word before, but I like it), and how that might reduce the impact of covid.
Have a healthy, happy, and for where I live, a hot week (we’ve had a cool, wet summer so far).
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. If you are an OT, teacher, or work in the school system, I would love to have coffee with you. But because many of you don’t live near me AND with covid, it’s still recommended to be cautious, having coffee together is difficult.
But there’s a solution! We have a 15-minute zoom call and I’ll send you a $15 coffee card.
I have some new ideas I’d like to implement BUT I don’t want to go madly off in all the wrong directions so your experience could save me time, money, and sanity. You can email me directly, diane<at>innovaid.ca.
Or, if you don't want to chat but have some ideas for new products or tweaks on present products, please comment below. You'll be required to leave your email but it isn't posted. It helps us reduce spam.