Oral Health Is Linked to Longevity, and There’s a New Wave of Products Designed To Keep It at Its Peak

As far as "fun" wellness practices go, brushing your teeth doesn't quite stack up to, say, sitting in an infrared sauna or massaging your face with a gua sha tool. But though this daily routine may feel kind of blah, that doesn't mean it's not important. Yes, a regular brush-and-floss can keep your mouth clean and your teeth pearly white, but it also has far greater implications for overall health. As brands have begun to examine the fact that oral health is linked to longevity and physical illness manifests itself in the mouth, there's a new wave of wellness products that specifically target the mouth-body connection.

"We’re seeing this huge shift towards overall health optimizing, as the pandemic has placed a new premium on health as almost a status symbol, and consumers become eager to optimize and improve their routines in order to support their wellbeing," says Melissa Hago, VP and creative director of beauty and wellness for Fashion Snoops, which explores culture-to-market shifts. "Consumers really want every step of their daily personal care routine to feel both indulgent and health forward, which is driving them to reconsider their product choices." And that includes what they're using to brush their teeth.

Understanding the oral microbiome

In the old way of thinking, oral care was about masking problems (like bad breath and discolored teeth) rather than resolving their root causes. And according to Gerald Curatola, DDS, a biologic dentist and author of The Mouth Body Connection, this approach was doing everyone a disservice. He notes that the wellness movement has pushed the understanding that outer radiance is the result of good health, and shown us that a healthy mouth is part of the overall equation.

With that in mind, it’s critical that we protect the oral microbiome, aka the community of good bacteria and other microorganisms that live inside our mouths (we promise—it’s less gross than it sounds). This microbiome has been found to play an essential role in longevity, as it performs many essential tasks including regulating our immune system and defending against environmental pathogens.

“The oral microbiome is this intelligent, semi-permeable membrane that brings oxygen to your gums and takes away waste products," Dr. Cutrola previously told Well+Good. "For years, we made the mistake of trying to destroy the bacteria in our mouths. Now we know that these bacteria run us, we don’t run them."

How oral care products and practices can support your overall wellbeing

According to Dr. Curatola, the best way to keep this ecosystem healthy (aside from loading your plate with antioxidant-rich foods) is by using oral-care products that include ingredients like vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q-10, and prebiotics. “More recently, Vitamins D-3 and K-2 have shown efficacy in reducing inflammation and promoting microbial homeostasis, or balance of the essential and beneficial oral microbiome,” he adds.

Research has also found that using toothpaste infused with vitamin B12 can help stave off deficiency and keep your immune system functioning properly, while oral care products with vitamin D can boost your mood, immunity, and bone strength while staving off inflammation in your mouth. What's more, a small 2017 study confirmed that "a toothpaste containing enzymes and proteins can significantly shift the ecology of the oral microbiome (at species level) resulting in a community with a stronger association to health."

Doctors have long used toothpaste to deliver vitamins (the practice is actually rooted in Ayurveda) because the mouth can absorb nutrients through its lining and via tissue under the tongue. “It bypasses the gastrointestinal system and the liver, delivering nutrients directly into the bloodstream while eliminating the need for extra ingredients, like sugars and gelatins, that are used to make capsules and gummies," confirms Vladimir Vukicevic, founder of Better & Better Oral Care. "And since most people brush their teeth two times a day, adding energy-boosting and immune-boosting nutrients to toothpaste is ideal because a strong existing habit is made even better."

In addition to brushing your teeth, Dr. Cutrola is also a fan of using the ancient Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling (swishing oil in the mouth for a few minutes before spitting it out) to help to rebalance the microbiome. “This is a ripe environment for the onset of dental decay and gum disease but "Oil pulling will create a good natural detergent action to eliminate unhealthy bacteria," he says, adding that this can be especially helpful when there is a thick, biofilm plaque in your mouth. Just be sure to limit your oil-pulling routine to once every two weeks, as doing it too often can strip away good bacteria. 

Flossing also helps, because it "removes food particles and prevents unhealthy plaque and in turn, prevents gum disease and tooth decay, which are both linked to everything from heart disease to more than seven types of cancer," says Dr. Cutrola.

Shop oral care products that are good for your mouth *and* your health

revitin toothpaste
Revitin Natural Toothpaste Single Tube — $15.00

This vitamin-and-probiotic-rich natural formula, developed by Dr. Cutrola himself, is devoid of any of the microbiome-disrupting antimicrobial ingredients you’ll likely find in most conventional toothpaste. It contains all of Dr. Cutrola’s favorite bacteria-balancers—probiotics, CoQ10, and vitamins K, C, D, and E—and comes in a fresh orange flavor.

Terra & Co. Gentle Green Oil Pulling with Hydroxyapatite — $40.00

Though you can use oils like coconut and sesame to try your hand (or, erm, mouth) at oil pulling, this stuff takes the practice to the next level. It’s made with a blend of natural oils, like hemp and neem, plus antioxidants and probiotics to support your microbiome health.

twice oral wellness rinse
Twice Oral Wellness Immunity Rinse — $20.00

This mouthwash uses a blend of natural oils (coconut and botanical) and minerals (zinc and nano silver) to neutralize bad bacteria while allowing good microbes to flourish.

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