Can too much brushing and flossing of your teeth be irritating your bowels? A recent study published in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences suggests that people who brush and floss a lot may be more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which affects about 600,000 Americans.
Researchers from the Chicago-based Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science surveyed 137 people and found that compared to people with healthy digestive systems, those suffering from Irritable Bowel Disease;
* Brushed and flossed more often
* Visited the dentist more often
* Were more likely to use breath freshener
* Had increased tooth decay, dry mouth & oral sores
The researchers suggest that brushing and flossing more may alter the types and numbers of bacteria in the mouth. This could cause imbalances in the bacteria further down the digestive tract. The results are symptoms usually associated with IBD. Previous studies have suggested a link between IBD and changes in digestive bacteria.
Not So Fast
However, the researchers pointed out that the findings is not necessarily mean that frequent (i.e. too much) teeth brushing and flossing leads to IBD. "Patients with IBD have a higher incidence of dry mouth, mouth ulcers and periodontal disease and therefore tend to pay greater attention to their oral hygiene", said David A. Albert, DDS, MPH, of the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. "These results do not imply that the hygiene practices caused the IBD."