One of the biggest concerns of today’s society is the worsening of the mental health of the population. In fact, a very recent report on mental health, prepared by the Mental Health Confederation of Spain confirms that 74.7% of the population considers that their mental health has worsened in recent years, and almost 40% indicate that they do not enjoy good mental health.
According to the WHO, anxiety and depression are diseases that, due to their high prevalence and their serious negative consequences, have become very worrying. There are many diseases that can be caused, or be increased in severity, by problems related to the mouth: periodontal problems with cognitive, cardiovascular diseases, and a long etcetera.
Having good dental health and a daily care routine is key to enjoying good overall health. But can poor oral health be related to mental health? According to the latest studies, the answer is YES. Every March 20th, World Oral Health Day is celebrated, a very significant day to comment on this latest research that has come to light.
The relationship between changes in the intestinal microbiota and the development of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders is increasingly evident. However, the link between specific oral bacteria and the development of depression and anxiety was not known until now.
With this latest research, it is possible to relate the salivary microbiomes and the back of the tongue and anxiety with depression. The study team of researchers found significant interactions between salivary and dorsum-of-tongue microbiomes with anxiety and depression, finding oral bacteria such as Centipedaperiodontii, Granulicatella, and Eggerthia associated with such mental illnesses.
According to the prestigious dental specialist IvánMalagón, “the mouth is one of the parts of the body through which the greatest number of pathogens can enter. The oral microbiome is the bacterial community that inhabits our mouth and is the second most diverse in the organism, housing more than 700 different species of microorganisms”.
How to know if our microbiome is not balanced?
“The signs that indicate that our microbiome is not balanced at the intra-oral level are several: bleeding and inflamed gums, bad mouth odor (halitosis) and on some occasions, it can also manifest with whitish lesions (because they are fungal infections which are characterized by taking advantage of immunosuppression situations to become active and to produce disease (fungal infections)”, indicates Malagón. “The imbalance of the oral microbiome can produce a risk of suffering from diseases such as periodontitis, gingivitis or caries. This is because the microbial community has been inherent to the human being and has co-evolved with it, but the changes in our lives throughout history have been changing it with their corresponding consequences”, adds the specialist.
How to balance the oral microbiome?
One of the factors that most impact the state of the oral microbiome is lifestyle. The excessive consumption of sugars, bad eating habits and substances such as the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, as well as the lack of adequate oral hygiene, are the main causes of this imbalance:
• A correct diet based on an increase in fruit, vegetables rich in nitrates and the consumption of fish, shellfish, algae, and mollusks is essential to ensure an adequate supply of omega 3 fatty acids.
• I also recommend eating 2-3 times a day and ensuring that the overnight fast is a minimum of 13 hours.
• It is essential to chew food well, since chewing helps to salivate. Saliva is very important in regulating oral pH and the activity and composition of oral bacteria.
• And finally, have correct daily oral hygiene and keep in mind the dentist’s appointments several times a year to keep track of our oral health.
According to Dr. Malagón, “The oral microbiota can be directly modulated with the use of human-derived probiotics. In the not too distant future it is possible that probiotics will be a key part of odontostomatological treatments”. “There is still a long way of research to go. In this regard, having a good oral care routine is a basic to improve many ailments. The mouth can solve many enigmas of the body, as well as being the signal to find solutions to problems that, at first glance, seem to be unrelated”, concludes the dentist.