Skip to main content

23 Jan, 2024

The Oral Microbiome: A Microscopic Metropolis by Studio Nourish

Following Detox Kitchen's Find Your Rhythm campaign, we are celebrating healthy habits, be it movement, nutrition, wellness or just habits which bring you joy. Today's focus is about the complex and often overlooked marvel – the oral microbiome. Comprising a diverse community of over 700 different species of bacteria, the oral microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining our oral health and influencing our overall health.


Each person's oral microbiome is unique, much like a fingerprint. It’s host to a dynamic and diverse community of microorganisms that includes bacteria, viruses and fungi that collectively form an ecosystem that interacts with each other. Our saliva is key in maintaining the balance of the oral microbiome and contains antimicrobial properties that help control the growth of harmful bacteria. Additionally, saliva provides essential nutrients for beneficial microorganisms and allows these microorganisms to communicate with each other through a process called quorum sensing. This sensing function enables them to coordinate activities and respond collectively to changes in their environment.

While some microorganisms are beneficial and contribute to our health, others can lead to oral diseases if their balance is disrupted. This can lead to something called dysbiosis (an imbalance in bacteria) which increases our risk of cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

But more worryingly than this, new evidence suggests that a dysbiotic oral microbiome is associated with conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections which highlights the systemic importance of maintaining oral health. There have also been links with poor oral health and increased fertility challenges. The motility, density, and vitality of a man's sperm is very important for successful fertilisation of the egg.

A study by Bienek et al showed that in a group of subfertile male subjects, 91.7% had some source of dental infection present. The group was split, and half underwent treatment for any oral disease and received rigorous oral hygiene intervention. After 6 months, the sperm of these subjects had improved by 20% and by month 8, 50% of them conceived successfully with their partners.

Oral bacteria such as p. Gingivalis (aka Gingivitis) was found in the semen of subfertile men. There have also been positive associations with bacteria entering into periodontal pockets around the tooth which lead to poor sperm motility (Klinger et al).

Similarly for Women, Periodontal (PD) disease has been shown to increase the risk of preterm birth, preeclampsia and low birth weight. These observations have suggested that PD may also affect the early stage of pregnancy, including the conception period (Ricci, et al).

During pregnancy, progesterone and oestrogen are high which can temporarily loosen the tissues and bone that keep your teeth in place and lead to gaps around the teeth. This allows bacteria and other foreign pathogens to enter in the gum cavity and cause gingivitis or periodontitis if left untreated. We always advise pregnant and postpartum clients to visit their dentist at 3 months intervals during pregnancy and thereafter for up to 6-9 months postpartum.

However, all is not lost. Here are some ways you can improve your oral microbiome and other microbiomes around your body;

  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Regular brushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning help remove plaque and prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Visit your dentist at least 2-3 x per year for a routine checkup and teeth clean.
  • Ensure your diet is rich in diverse fruits, vegetables, and whole grains which provide essential nutrients for your beneficial bacteria. Whole grain and plant based foods also tend to be rich in fibre and therefore a great source of prebiotics which act as food for your indigenous oral microbes.
  • Reducing sugar - When you consume less sugar you provide oral bacteria like plaque with less fuel to produce the harmful substances that can damage your teeth and your oral cavity.
  • Just as we have seen with the gut, introducing probiotic foods such as fermented foods like unsweetened yoghurt, kimchi and sauerkraut, can introduce beneficial bacteria to the oral cavity.
  • Limit the intake of sugary and acidic foods such as fizzy drinks, as they can contribute to an imbalance in the oral microbiome.
  • Unless advised by your dentist, avoid using astringent mouth washes as these can flush away the good bacteria in your mouth.
  • Drinking water helps stimulate saliva production, aiding in the natural cleansing of the mouth. It also helps maintain a neutral pH, creating an environment less conducive to the growth of bacteria. Understanding the oral microbiome and its intricate relationship with our overall health is crucial for promoting human wellbeing.

Detox Kitchen’s meals are all free from refined sugars which helps to protect not just your oral microbiome, but also your gut microbiome. They also boast a diverse array of plant based fibre which act as a great source of prebiotic nutrients for all of your microbes.

By adopting evidence-based strategies, such as maintaining good oral hygiene, following a balanced diet and seeing your dentist regularly, you can positively influence your oral microbiome and foster an environment that supports your overall systemic health.