When a child has dental health problems like tooth decay, it’s common for parents to say, ‘they inherited my bad teeth.’
Every child inherits genetic factors from their parents. But for kid’s dental health, a far bigger factor is the environment. And here’s what parents often don’t realize — your kid’s dental health influences their gut microbiome.
The normal oral flora in your child’s mouth is the first part of their digestive system. Intestinal bacteria are now known to shape their metabolism, immune system and their growing brain.
The gut microbiome is central to a newborn’s health. And the maternal gut health plays a big role in shaping it. During a healthy pregnancy, your oral and gut microbiome transfers to your baby. Your gut health and intestinal flora form your child’s digestive system.
But, healthy and normal pregnancy is a turbulent time for your body. The hormonal changes during pregnancy are known to increase the risk of bleeding gums and gum disease in pregnant woman.
Are dental problems like bleeding gums a sign of imbalance or a sign of a normal, healthy pregnancy?
In this article, we’ll explore the changes that occur to your gut microbiome during normal pregnancy.
How do I take care of my pregnancy gut microbiome?
Pregnant Moms know that problems like bleeding gums and cavities in teeth are common in pregnancy.
If you have a diseased oral microbiome, it will likely be passed on to your kid. A parent’s oral and gut bacteria are an overlooked influence in kids dental health.
But pregnancy itself signals a host of changes to a mother’s gut microbiome. We’re going to look at how your gut microbiome shapes your pregnancy. Some of the shifts to the digestive system may even be part of a normal, healthy pregnancy.
So how do we know what is normal or not?
The pregnancy microbiome and newborn microbiome is a delicate interplay between your:
- Pregnancy oral and gut microbiome
- Vaginal microbiome
- Newborn microbiome
- Breastmilk microbiome
Sex hormones and the gut microbiome
Once pregnancy begins, your body goes through a cycle of sex-hormone changes.
Nature is preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy. Estrogen gets your body ready to grow. Progesterone thickens the uterus lining and loosens joints in preparation to house a growing fetus.
However, sex hormones also set off a cascade in the gut microbiome. Gut microbes are critical for your health. And they even influence your sex hormones. There is a crucial two-way cross-speak between gut flora and sex hormones.
For example, there is a known difference between gut microbiomes in males and females. These differences may all be related sex hormones.
Females are at higher risk of gut related diseases such as auto-immune disease. In animal studies, where gut flora are reduced, the difference in risk of autoimmunity between sexes decrease.
Your gut microbiome and sex hormones have a complex and important relationship.
In pregnancy, the shifts in sex hormones begin at conception. Sex hormones prepare your body for pregnancy, but they use gut microbiome to do so.
What is the importance of pregnancy hormones and the gut microbiome?
Estrogen -> Gut Bacteria -> Pregnancy metabolic changes
The first sex hormone change during pregnancy is an increase in estrogen.
The gut microbiome is known to have a set of bacteria that process estrogen. The ‘estrabolome’ is the entire genetic set of bacteria that process estrogen. As hormonal changes begin in pregnancy, it triggers changes in the gut microbiome.
Your gut flora has a key role in metabolism. Pregnancy sets the female body into a metabolic state to grow a child. Research is still unclear on how hormones precisely shift your gut microbiome. This is part of the body preparing the gut flora for the changes required to grow an unborn child.
Pregnancy sets off a cascade in your body to grow a newborn child. The gut microbiome begins to digest sex hormones that set off bodywide metabolic changes.
Why poor gut flora affects your pregnancy
So, how careful do you have to be in early pregnancy? Hormone and gut microbiome changes are part of healthy pregnancy. However, it is still a high-pressure time for your body. If your intestinal bacteria are imbalanced, the pregnancy begins off balance. That’s why gut health before and during pregnancy is so important your own, and your kid’s health.
Sex hormones send changes to gut microbes. If your intestinal bacteria are imbalanced, the gut flora response may not happen as it should. The changes can tip pregnancy over into a diseased state in the microbiome.
For example, differences in gut microbiota between sexes are well known. Estrogen has a role in pregnancy gut health and depends on the previous health of the gut microbes.
Studies have suggested that certain microbes, will respond differently to hormones. For instance, in a healthy gut microbiome, sex hormones may provide protection for type-1 diabetes.
Sex hormones in general also manipulate the maternal immune system. Estrogen directs inflammation that the body needs for pregnancy. Your gut flora is a large influence on the immune system.
If your digestive and gut health are a problem before pregnancy, it will change your body’s response to pregnancy hormones. This may be why pregnant women of are at higher risk gum disease, obesity, and autoimmune problems.
These signs may be first picked up in your oral microbiome. Bleeding gums is a very common occurrence in pregnancy.
Your gut microbiome shapes normal pregnancy and your kid’s teeth
Pregnancy and sex hormones set off a ‘butterfly-like’ effect in your gut microbiome. Gut health before, during and after pregnancy is closely connected to your newborn’s health.
The role of intestinal bacteria in your pregnancy should not be understated. They are a vital tool for your body to manage your metabolism, immune system and overall health.
All of these factors add up to control your own health and to enhance the growth of your child. Your gut microbiome is being transferred to your newborn child.
In the next article, we’ll explore the specific bacteria changes that occur in the pregnancy gut microbiome.
Now we want to hear from you. Please leave your questions in the comments below.
Want to know more? Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
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