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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Children’s Dental Health is Crucial for Gut Health

Jun 30, 2023 09:31AM ● By Dr. Amparo M. David, DMD
The gastrointestinal system (GI) is the body’s mechanism of absorbing nutrients to grow and thrive. It begins with the oral cavity, then moves to the stomach and into the intestines. In essence, the mouth is a window that allows us to see what else is going on in other areas of the body. If an infection forms in the mouth, it will surely expand unless it is treated properly. Disturbances in the mouth such as tooth decay or gum inflammation will affect the rest of the GI tract and can strike vital organs such as the heart and brain, making it imperative for children to have access to proper dental care.

The body is a large microbiome, or natural home to millions of living microbes. Many of the microbes that live within us are not harmful and we have a symbiotic relationship with them. Good bacteria help breakdown the foods we eat and support our immune system. However, we can harbor unwanted bacteria species that cause inflammation and illness. Dental decay and inflamed gum tissue is directly related to an infection of harmful bacteria. If a large cavity is left alone for a while, bacteria will continue to advance and create an even larger infection of bacteria in our saliva. We swallow an average of 700 times a day, so the infected saliva we swallow will move to the stomach and alter its microbiome. This will lead to long-term inflammation of the stomach, getting in the way of absorption of the nutrients as well as weakening the immune system.

Antibiotics are a significant variable when it comes to gut health. Along with the harmful bacteria, antibiotics will wipe out good bacteria too, drastically changing the microbiome in the stomach. Medicating with antibiotics has become a common quick-fix solution in health care, especially for children. By relying on it too much, we expose the body to a point where a resistance is formed by the microbes we are trying to eliminate. This is why it is important to use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary because when the time comes to treat a serious infection, they will not be effective. 

To rebalance the gut microbiome, consuming probiotics and fermented foods can reintroduce good bacteria to the GI and get proper absorption back on track. Starting a child’s eating habits early with plenty of fresh vegetables and protein will help the body absorb needed vitamins and minerals that contribute to a healthy mouth such as vitamin C for healthy gums and calcium for healthy teeth. Avoiding certain foods that cause inflammation will also improve gut health. This includes foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. To make sure the microbiome is healthy, it is important to form a good relationship with a dentist. Dental professionals will be the first to identify a potential problem in the mouth and lead you down the right path in fixing it early. Routine dental cleanings will keep bacteria levels as low as possible and contribute to not only a healthy microbiome, but overall health.

Dr. Amparo M. David, DMD, owns Dentistry by Dr. David, located at 563 Main St., Bolton, MA, where she practices general and cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics. She also has completed a residency in dental sleep medicine and sleep apnea, and is able to assist her patients with this common problem. For more information or to make an appointment, call 978-779-2888 or visit