How to Improve Oral Health & It's Critical Role in Brain & Body Health

How to Improve Oral Health & It's Critical Role in Brain & Body Health

Oral Health (00:00:00)

  • Oral health is not just about tooth health and appearance, but also about the health of the entire oral cavity, including the oral microbiome, palate, and tonsils.
  • Oral health is a critical component of general bodily health and should be considered the seventh pillar of mental health, physical health, and performance, alongside sleep, sunlight, nutrition, exercise, stress management, and relationships.
  • Oral health influences cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and brain health, and can help stave off diseases in these areas.
  • Teeth have the ability to fill back in cavities that have formed, provided they haven't gone too deep into the teeth layers.
  • Saliva is an incredible substance that contains important components that help rebuild teeth strength and support the health of the oral cavity, gut microbiome, and body in general.
  • There are zero-cost and low-cost protocols that can help restore, improve, and maintain oral health, leading to improved overall bodily health.

Sponsors: Mateina, ROKA & Helix Sleep (00:03:28)

  • The podcast is separate from the speaker's teaching and research roles at Stanford.
  • The speaker thanks the sponsors of the podcast: Mateina, ROKA, and Helix Sleep.
  • Oral health is critical for overall health and well-being.
  • Poor oral health has been linked to an increased risk of various health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
  • Good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly, can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important for maintaining good oral health.
  • The mouth is a gateway to the body, and oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body.
  • Oral bacteria can contribute to the development of various health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
  • Maintaining good oral health can help reduce the risk of these conditions.
  • Gum disease is a common oral health problem that can lead to tooth loss.
  • Gum disease is also linked to an increased risk of various health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
  • Good oral hygiene practices can help prevent gum disease.
  • Tooth decay is another common oral health problem that can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss.
  • Tooth decay can also contribute to the development of various health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia.
  • Good oral hygiene practices can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important for maintaining good oral health.
  • Dental check-ups can help identify and treat oral health problems early on, before they become more serious.
  • Dental cleanings can help remove plaque and tartar from the teeth, which can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Good oral health is critical for overall health and well-being.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly, can help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are important for maintaining good oral health.

Oral Health Quiz (00:07:13)

  • Oral health is crucial for overall brain and body health in both the short and long term.
  • People can be categorized into three groups based on their oral health habits:
    • Category 1: Those who brush and floss regularly but may still have room for improvement.
    • Category 2: Those who are less diligent about oral care and may be depleting their oral and overall bodily health.
    • Category 3: Those who do a lot for their oral health and appearance.
  • The consensus among dentists and oral health experts includes well-backed scientific practices for improving oral health, despite some differences in opinions.
  • Even those in Category 3 can benefit from learning new health practices to enhance their oral care routines.

Teeth Biology, Cavity Repair (00:13:53)

  • Teeth have an outer layer of enamel followed by dentin, and cavities form from the outside inward.
  • The mouth environment constantly fluctuates between demineralization and remineralization, which can lead to cavities.
  • Remineralization can help fill in cavities that have formed in the enamel.
  • Cavities often form at the same depth in different teeth, making early treatment easier.
  • Poor childhood oral health experiences can cause dental anxiety and avoidance of dental care in adulthood.
  • Regular dental cleanings are crucial for maintaining good oral health.
  • Remineralizing the enamel can prevent cavities and the need for drilling and filling, while deep demineralization may require these procedures.

Mouth, Gums, Saliva (00:20:01)

  • The teeth undergo constant demineralization and remineralization based on mouth acidity and saliva minerals.
  • The gums stabilize the teeth and act as a barrier between the oral cavity and bloodstream.
  • The oral cavity, despite being exposed to bacteria, can support beneficial bacteria that maintain oral health.
  • The pH level of the mouth determines the growth of good or bad bacteria, with a healthy pH killing harmful bacteria and promoting beneficial ones.
  • The oral cavity has remarkable healing abilities with minimal scarring.
  • Maintaining healthy saliva is essential for oral health and preventing gum disease.
  • Poor oral hygiene and harmful bacteria can cause periodontal disease, linked to Alzheimer's, cardiac issues, and metabolic problems.
  • Supporting beneficial bacteria and eliminating harmful ones improves overall oral health, including teeth, gums, and breath.

Sponsor: AG1 (00:27:23)

  • AG1 is a vitamin, mineral, probiotic drink with adaptogens.
  • AG1 ensures meeting daily vitamin and mineral quotas.
  • AG1 supports gut health with prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Gut health is crucial for brain function, immune system, and neurotransmitter production.
  • AG1 provides hard-to-obtain micronutrients from whole foods.
  • AG1 supports mental health, physical health, and performance.
  • To try AG1, visit for a year's supply of vitamin D3, K2, and five free travel packs.

Cavity Formation, Bacteria, Sugar, Acidity (00:28:51)

  • Cavities are caused by bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) that feed on sugar and complex carbohydrates, not by sugar itself.
  • Streptococcus mutans is communicable through sharing of glasses, bottles, or kissing on the mouth.
  • Maintaining a pH balance in the mouth that supports remineralization of teeth is crucial for preventing cavities.
  • Oral health is crucial for overall brain and body health.
  • The key to maintaining oral health is to keep the mouth as alkaline as possible to prevent the formation of cavities.
  • Reducing the amount of Streptococcus mutans and acid in the mouth is essential for preventing and reversing cavities.

Teeth Remineralization, Fluoride, Water (00:35:10)

  • Remineralization of teeth involves the formation of strong bonds between minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite, within the enamel.
  • Fluoride, added to drinking water and some toothpastes, can replace some hydroxyapatite bonds in teeth, making them stronger.
  • There is an ongoing debate about the safety of fluoride, with concerns about its potential negative effects on bodily and brain health, especially in children.
  • Lawsuits in California and Buffalo, New York, address the potential health risks of fluoride in drinking water, while others claim insufficient fluoride causes harm.
  • Some dentists are not in favor of fluoride due to concerns about its effects on thyroid and brain health.
  • Filtering tap water and using fluoride-free toothpastes can reduce fluoride exposure.
  • Increasing the remineralization state of teeth and mouth without creating other health hazards is crucial for oral health.

Sponsor: InsideTracker (00:42:57)

  • InsideTracker is a personalized nutrition platform that analyzes data from blood and DNA to help understand the body and reach health goals.
  • InsideTracker provides specific directives related to nutrition, behavioral modifications, and supplements to bring metabolic factors, lipids, and hormones into optimal ranges.
  • To try InsideTracker, visit for a 20% discount on any of InsideTracker's plans.

Tools: The “Do Nots” of Oral Health, Mouth Breathing (00:43:58)

  • Alcohol consumption, especially more than two drinks per week, disrupts the oral microbiome, alters saliva pH, and promotes tooth decay. It also kills beneficial cells in the mouth, impairing immune function.
  • Stimulants, including methamphetamine, Adderall, Vyvanse, coffee, and tea, can increase saliva acidity and potentially harm oral health. Stimulants also encourage mouth breathing, which dries the mouth and further shifts it into a demineralization state.
  • Smoking, vaping, and excessive alcohol consumption can harm oral health and increase the risk of oral cancer and gum tissue degradation.
  • Sugar should be consumed in moderation, and rinsing the mouth with water or a saltwater solution is recommended after eating to remove food particles.
  • Acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and carbonated beverages, should be consumed in moderation to prevent damage to teeth and oral tissues. To minimize the impact of acidic substances on oral health, it's recommended to limit the duration of exposure to these substances and rinse the mouth with water afterward to neutralize the acidity.
  • Nasal breathing is recommended whenever possible, except during intense exercise or specific sports.
  • Most mouthwashes, especially alcohol-based or antiseptic ones, are harmful to oral health, except when prescribed or used under specific conditions.

Tools: Fasting & Teeth Remineralization; Nighttime Toothbrushing (00:54:48)

  • Saliva production is highest during the day and has an optimal pH for remineralizing teeth.
  • Eating or drinking acidic liquids changes saliva's pH and introduces sugars that bacteria can feed on, disrupting remineralization.
  • Intermittent fasting or having a stretch of time (2-6 hours or more) during the day when you're not eating or drinking anything acidic can benefit oral health by providing an opportunity for saliva to remineralize the teeth.
  • Brushing and flossing at night are crucial as saliva production is significantly reduced during sleep, allowing bacteria to feed on food particles and create cavities.

Proper Teeth Brushing; Tooth Sensitivity & Gums (01:03:23)

  • To maintain good oral health, brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush using a circular motion on the fronts and backs of your teeth.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth too vigorously, as this can damage your gums.
  • Brush your gums lightly to increase blood circulation and provide nutrients to the deeper portions of the tooth.
  • Flossing is also essential for oral health and should be done twice a day.
  • Brushing your gums can promote resilience and reduce sensitivity of the teeth to hot, cold, and pressure, which is especially beneficial for individuals with sensitive teeth.

Bacteria, Plaque & Tartar; Tooth Polishing (01:08:16)

  • The main goal of brushing teeth is to break up the biofilm layer that provides a substrate for bacteria to form plaque and tartar.
  • Plaque is a thicker layer of bacteria that forms when biofilm accumulates and becomes mossy.
  • Tartar is the hard, caked-on substance that requires scraping by a dentist.
  • Brushing and flossing can remove biofilm and plaque, but not tartar.
  • Tooth polishing makes the surfaces of teeth smooth, making it harder for bacteria to stick and form plaque and tartar.

Proper Flossing Technique, Waterpik; Children & Flossing (01:11:02)

  • There is some debate about flossing in the dentistry field.
  • Most dentists emphasize the importance of flossing correctly to avoid gum bleeding.
  • The correct flossing technique involves gliding the floss down the side of the tooth, getting a little bit underneath the gum, using a circular motion, and then lifting up from between the two teeth.
  • A water pick may be a better option than traditional floss or toothpick-based floss approaches as it is gentler on the teeth and gums.
  • Children younger than six typically have big spaces between their baby teeth and their adult teeth, so flossing is not necessary and may cause damage to the gums. Instead, they should focus on brushing.

Tool: Xylitol, Bacteria & Cavity Prevention (01:14:23)

  • Xylitol is a low-calorie sweetener that inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria that causes cavities, and reduces inflammation of the gum tissue.
  • Chewing Xylitol mints or gum immediately after meals helps improve oral health by inhibiting the proliferation of cavity-forming Streptococcus mutants.
  • Xylitol may have positive benefits for the gut microbiome, but more research is needed.
  • Dr. Ellie Phillips, a prominent dentist in public health education, promotes oral microbiome health and the potential benefits of Xylitol gums.
  • Most of the information provided by Dr. Phillips is supported by other dentists, and she still recommends regular dental visits.

Toothpastes: Xylitol, Fluoride, Hydroxyapatite (01:19:43)

  • Xylitol is a good sweetener to have in toothpaste due to its benefits for oral health.
  • Some people are concerned about the potential negative effects of fluoride on brain and thyroid health.
  • Non-fluoride toothpastes containing hydroxyapatite, xylitol, and a mild abrasive can be a good option for those who want to avoid fluoride.
  • The author provides links to some sources for non-fluoride toothpastes and toothpaste tablets in the video description, but they have no financial relationship with these companies.

Mouthwash & Alcohol, Antiseptic Mouthwash (01:22:38)

  • Most mouthwashes, especially those containing alcohol, are bad for oral health.
  • Alcohol-based mouthwashes deplete certain components of the mucosal lining of the mouth and disrupt the healthy components of the oral microbiome.
  • Antiseptic mouthwashes, some of which contain alcohol, can be prescribed for serious bacterial overgrowth and infections of the oral cavity.
  • Ask your healthcare professional about the potential negative effects of antiseptic mouthwashes on oral health and gut microbiota.
  • If you want to use a mouthwash, try to find one that is not alcohol-based and not a strong antiseptic.

Tools: Baking Soda, Hydrogen Peroxide?, Salt Water Rinse (01:26:29)

  • Baking soda and water can be used as a low-abrasive toothpaste alternative to remove biofilm and whiten teeth.
  • Avoid using baking soda and hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash, as hydrogen peroxide is too abrasive and can cause ulcers.
  • A high salt solution can reduce inflammation and improve oral health when used as a dental rinse.
  • Swishing plain water with a little salt can improve the oral environment and promote healthy mouth bacteria.
  • Xylitol-containing gums and mints, as well as certain boutique toothpastes, can be beneficial for oral health but may be costly.

Alcohol-Based Mouthwash, Nitric Oxide (01:32:36)

  • Alcohol-based mouthwashes reduce nitric oxide production in the oral cavity.
  • Nitric oxide promotes vasodilation in blood vessels lining the oral cavity, throat, nose, brain, and heart.
  • Nitric oxide production increases when the oral microbiome is healthy.
  • Nitric oxide is beneficial for small capillary vein and arterial health by allowing blood to pass through and deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues while removing waste products.
  • Alcohol-based mouthwashes deplete nitric oxide production, so it's best to avoid them.
  • Supporting the oral microbiome through other means can improve breath without the disadvantages of alcohol-based mouthwashes.

Tools: Canker Sore Prevention & Gut Microbiome; Sleep (01:34:52)

  • Canker sores are uncomfortable, and their formation is linked to the gut microbiome.
  • Promoting gut microbiome health can prevent canker sores and accelerate their healing.
  • Consuming 1-4 servings of low-sugar fermented foods daily supports a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Prebiotic fiber from fruits, vegetables, or supplements can also promote gut health.
  • Taking probiotic pills or capsules may be necessary for individuals with severe dysbiosis or after antibiotic use, but regular consumption of low-sugar fermented foods is generally recommended.
  • Adequate sleep (6-8 hours per night for most people) supports the health of the gut and oral microbiome, indirectly benefiting the entire brain and body.

Tools: Tongue Brushing; Toothbrush Care (01:37:47)

  • Tongue scraping or brushing can remove unhealthy bacteria that build up on the tongue.
  • Lightly brushing the tongue may be better than scraping it to avoid damaging the tongue tissue.
  • Use a separate toothbrush for brushing the tongue to prevent crossover of bacteria.
  • Bacteria proliferate on moist toothbrushes, so proper care is essential.
  • Options for toothbrush care include covering it, letting it air dry, or using UV irradiation.
  • The frequency of toothbrush replacement varies from every use to once every two weeks, depending on individual preference and tolerance for bacteria.
  • Rinse and dry the toothbrush head after use to minimize bacterial growth.
  • Avoid contact between the toothbrush head and unsanitary surfaces.

Teeth Sealants; Metal Fillings, Mercury, Mastic Gum; Root Canals (01:41:38)

  • Sealants used in dentistry may contain harmful chemicals, so it's important to consult with a dentist to determine the best course of action for treating cavities.
  • Deep cavities may require drilling and filling, as remineralization may not be possible.
  • Metal fillings, especially older ones, may contain harmful metals like lead or mercury, and should be avoided from being disrupted to prevent the release of harmful substances.
  • Mastic gum should be used with caution if you have metal fillings as it can potentially liberate mercury into the bloodstream.
  • Root canals and cavity fillings may still be necessary in some cases, especially for deep cavities that cannot be remineralized through natural methods.
  • Regular dental check-ups and discussions with your dentist about oral health improvement strategies are important.

Dentist Visits, Daily Routines & Oral Health (01:48:43)

  • Routine dental visits, typically twice a year, are recommended for cleanings, checkups, and oral health evaluations.
  • Daily oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, are crucial for maintaining oral health and preventing disease.
  • Genetic factors can impact oral health, potentially requiring more frequent dental visits for some individuals.
  • Diligent daily oral hygiene can reduce the need for frequent dental cleanings and help prevent cavities and gum disease.
  • Oral health is linked to overall health, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Poor oral health can lead to gut issues due to the connection between the mouth and gut through the rich blood flow in the oral cavity.

Practices for Oral Health, Oil Pulling (01:54:17)

  • Oral health is critical for brain and body health, and should be considered a seventh pillar of health alongside sleep, nutrition, movement, stress modulation, relationships, and light.
  • There are many things we can do to improve our oral health, including:
    • Considering whether antiseptic alcohol-based mouthwashes are beneficial (they are not).
    • Brushing and flossing regularly.
    • Using Xylitol to improve oral health.
  • Remineralizing our teeth by changing the acidity of our mouths.
  • Oil pulling is a popular practice that involves swishing olive oil around the mouth and spitting it out.
    • There is some evidence to suggest that oil pulling may have benefits for oral health, but the peer-reviewed evidence is not sufficient to make a strong recommendation.
    • Oil pulling is a low-cost practice that may be worth trying if it feels beneficial.

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