The Connection Between your Colon and Oral Health

The Connection Between your Colon and Oral Health

Ever since the in-depth exploration of the human microbiome, in 2007,  experts are discovering more about how it connects to our health. The presence of just one type of bacteria can make or break your overall health. That is a wild concept. Experts are also realizing that there is an outright connection between our oral health and chronic conditions.  So far, most dentists are certainly aware that chronic conditions, inflammatory disease, and even types of cancer can trace its origins to poor oral health. And they back it up with scientific evidence. But just how far does this rabbit hole go? What can dentists in Austin, Texas or anywhere else in the world say about how our oral health can affect the rest of the body? Well, we found more evidence of the correlation between oral health and our colon.

Colorectal Polyps

A gastroenterologist and her research team from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine had been studying colorectal polyps. Colorectal polyps are growths that appear on the lining of the colon or large intestine. Their presence alone is not enough to cause damage to your colon. In fact, most of them are harmless. However, some of them, when given enough time to develop, can turn into colon cancer. So, when a doctor catches wind that there may be some, they will need to be taken out.  Until recently, there is no definitive known cause of colorectal polyps. All those doctors know is that there are a few markers that increase the chances of these polyps appearing.

These markers include:

  • Genetic disorders
  • Obese patients
  • Patients aged 50 or older
  • Smokers
  • Patients that have an inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Patients that have type 2 diabetes that isn’t well-controlled

Biofilm Studies as a Precedent for Current Research

So, while this is all good, what does a doctor that has spent studying the colon have to do with oral hygiene. Well, Dr. Samara Riftkin MD, paid attention to recent clinical studies regarding invasive biofilms. As well as, oral bacteria being found in places where people don’t normally think to find them.

According to an interview with Dr. Rifkin, “Recent clinical studies have associated novel features of microbial dysbiosis with colorectal cancer.  Including a history of periodontitis and the presence of invasive biofilms and oral bacteria in CRC tissues. Possible mechanisms include increased systemic inflammation, and the immune response to an alteration in the microbiota, but the contributions of periodontal health, oral microbes and biofilm status in polyp formation are currently unknown.”

So, if that is the case, is there a way to at least pinpoint a trend of oral health and the formation of colon polyps? Yes, there is. In the form of a cross-sectional study.  Researchers divided the patients into groups based on the types of polyps they had, people who had a combination of different types, and those who had no polyps. Then they put it up against dental trends. What they found was interesting, to say the least.

“Compared with people who said they had never gone to the dentist, patients seeing the dentist every six months had a 52% lower risk for synchronous APs and ssPs; those who reported seeing a dentist between once and twice per year had a 34% reduced risk.”

People with regular dental checkups had a lower risk of developing polyps.

Bacteria and Our Digestive System

What makes it more interesting is that the findings don’t sound all that farfetched. After all, biofilm that can exist on teeth could potentially be swallowed down with food or saliva.  Since a lot of bacteria are anaerobic or don’t need to breathe, it could easily work through our digestive tract and make their way down to the colon. All they need to survive and breed is a place to stay uninterrupted and sugars to feed on.

From there, cells that come in contact with bacteria will be left genetically altered and will mutate to breed in excess numbers. It is the cause of a lot of inflammatory diseases, and other types of cancers, unchecked and warped cell growth.

So, if your oral health is not at least taken a little bit seriously, you will increase your chances of causing long term issues with your digestive system. Including your bowels.

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