Qodh 12 6 638f5c36b260d

To avoid chronic disease, mind those oral microbes

Dec. 7, 2022
Barbara Tritz, the Queen of Dental Hygiene, shares how she explains the microbiome to patients—and how she gets them to own their health.

About 10 years ago, I pondered why our senior citizens all seemed to have such chronic diseases. Six in 10 people have a chronic disease and four in 10 have two or more! I further wondered what I was doing (or not doing) to set the stage for this seeming eventuality for myself.

I thought I was eating correctly and exercising about five times a week. What more could I do to ensure my health and vitality? And even more important, what was I doing wrong? How was I silently setting the stage for chronic diseases to slide into my body to create havoc and destruction and my decline in health? 

Turns out, I was doing lots wrong. In my deep dive to become healthier and take better care of myself, I found even more evidence that oral health, or rather the lack of it, plays a huge role in not only the mouth but (no surprise) our entire body.

Your mouth is home to not only bacteria, but also viruses, parasites, and fungi. Ninety-nine percent of these bugs are healthy, and are what we call commensals. They are the good guys. We need to have a healthy garden of the “good” microbes in not only our mouths but throughout the entire body, and especially our gut.

A healthy mouth is a sign our gut microbiome is healthy as well. Seventy to 80% of our immune system resides in our gut so if the gut lining is dysbiotic (unhealthy), then our immune system cannot work properly. Leaky, bleedy gums mean the gut is also leaky, and then the arteries are leaky and our brain is also leaky. Even a little bit of bleeding is a sign of infection and inflammation. And thus begins chronic disease.

Here's how I explain the microbiome to patients—and how I get them to own their health.

Barbara Tritz is a biological dental hygienist and orofacial myofunctional therapist whose blog, Queen of Dental Hygiene, provides patients the information they need to help them on their healing journey. “Our one-hour appointment time was just not long enough to share all the many important facts I wanted our patients to learn. Dental hygiene is about so much more than just teaching brushing and flossing," says Barbara. “We are healers, educators, and lifesavers, and we need to give our patients the tools and skills to empower them to true wellness and health.”

Read Barbara's blog and look for more of her posts excerpted and shared on RDH.

About the Author

Barbara Tritz, MSB, BSDATE, BRDH

Barbara Tritz, MSB, BSDATE, BRDH, is a practicing biological dental hygienist at Green City Dental in Edmonds, Washington. She is the owner of Washington Oral Wellness in Kirkland, Washington, where she practices orofacial myofunctional therapy. She completed her accreditation in biological dental hygiene through the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, and is laser certified through the Academy of Laser Dentistry. In 2019 Barbara received the HuFriedy-American Dental Hygienist Association Master Clinician Award. Barbara can be contacted at [email protected].