What Can Be Done for Oral Health?
Like in most areas in life, there are factors in and out of our direct control in terms of oral health. It’s worth discussing both parts broadly and then focusing on the more actionable tips.
When it comes to the mouth, the majority of the problems are related to the teeth and gums. Most often tooth decays (dental caries/ cavities) or gum disease (periodontal disease).
There are some other growing issues related to bad breath (halitosis), acidic erosion of the teeth, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ disorders), or teeth grinding- tooth wear and others.
Out of control
There are factors that are determined by our genetics or past life events. These cannot be changed, at least not yet, e.g the DNA code.
However, a better understanding of the human genome showed that many things that we’ve believed to be genetic turn out to be epigenetic (epi= above). It means that the body has this amazing capacity of not just to decode the wide variety of genes as they are, but to control how and when they are turned on and off.
There is also evidence now that pathogens, for example, P. gingivalis that plays a central role in gum disease and many other systemic problems, affect the inflammation process directly. Like a rogue agent. Not just causing harm in itself, but turning everything into a more toxic version.
Understanding these areas is useful and important. Although it’s just as important to make sure we don’t fall into the victim-mentality of these factors. We are not fully determined by our genes, or past events.
How we live our lives, diet and habits have the biggest impact on the general and oral health. The scientific evidence is robust in these regards. It’s known that even less-ideal genetic factors (in a given environment) can be compensated by effective, individual interventions.
Diet: How and what we eat (or don’t) matter.
Lifestyle: What we do (or don’t) on a daily basis matter.
The oral cavity is a complex ecosystem and most factors function in an intimate relation with the oral microbiota. It’s sort of a proxy of all the factors. Microbiome diversity makes humans and other multicellular organisms robust survival and replicating machines.
The oral microbiota has its core and variable parts. The core microbiota is common to all individuals, whereas variable microbiota is unique to individuals depending on the lifestyle and physiological differences.
These nuance factors often make the difference between health and disease.In the next two articles I will focus more on the actionable steps related to lifestyle, diet and their impacts on oral health.