If you've found yourself on a quest to achieve a perfectly flawless complexion, you've probably realized that the odds are—sorry—against you. We're not trying to be pessimistic, but between stress, a polluted environment, hormones, genetics, products, lifestyle habits, diet, workout regimens, and so on and so forth, there is a lot at play when it comes to the health and appearance of our skin. Oh, and as we recently learned from celebrity aesthetic dentist Grace Goar Vershinina, our dental health can also have a major bearing.
When you think about it, it makes total sense. As Vershinina describes, the mouth acts like a gateway into the body, and just as things like our hormones, digestion, and more can affect the glow of our complexion, so too can the state of our oral health. However, unlike more complicated issues like hormones, genetics, or finicky pores, keeping on top of what's happening in our mouth makes it easy to address (and hopefully eliminate) oral hygiene as a suspect skin disruptor. Curious? Keep scrolling to learn more about the relationship between mouth and skin, plus the relatively simple and totally painless way to make good.
1. What Is the Connection Between Oral Health and Skin Health?
As Vershinina explains, our oral health extends way beyond the cosmetic status of our mouth (aka how bright our pearly whites are) and even beyond the health of our mouth, teeth, and gums. "Think of your mouth as a gateway to the rest of your body," she explains. "The condition of your teeth and gums has a significant impact on their overall health and skin health. Because the mouth is a gate, a primary entryway into the body, poor oral health can have negative consequences for the entire body. Bacteria from the mouth can easily get into the bloodstream and cause inflammation, infection, and disease." And yes, it can most definitely impact the status of your skin regardless of how great your skincare routine is, how clean your diet may be, or even the number of times you hit the gym per week.
"You may be on a healthy diet, exercising daily, using the best skincare products, but if you have dental problems, poor oral hygiene, silent dental infection, different types of metal restoration in your body (aka fillings, etc.), your skin most likely won’t have that healthy glow because a healthy mouth contributes to healthy skin."
What You Can Do
Just as other systemic and bodily issues like inflammation and hormonal imbalance can cause dull skin or acne, so too can poor oral hygiene. So to make sure your mouth isn't the contributing factor here, Vershinina recommends making habit of the below practices.
According to Vershinina, different types of metal restoration in your mouth can cause skin issues. We'll let her take it from here in dental speak.
"The correlation here is due to the construction of restorative and prosthetic dental appliances which are often comprised by a wide range of metals," she explains. "The corrosion of these appliances releases metal ions into the body, and the linings of the mouth and the digestive system can absorb these metal ions. Many dental metals may become allergens and cause dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) and other health problems, and the potential risk for developing these types of allergic reactions increases the longer you have these types of pieces in the mouth."
But there's hope! Vershinina shares that more and more patients are beginning to replace their metal restoration with biocompatible restorations, which conversely interact favorably with the human body and are nontoxic, some examples being metal-free ceramic implants, metal-free zirconia and porcelain crowns, inlays, onlays instead of composites, etc. The best idea? Have a consultation with a dental expert you trust to come up with the best game plan.
2. See Your Dentist Every Three to Six Months—Yes, Really
Okay, yes, this one is more common knowledge, but just like keeping up with regular cleanings and check-ups, it can fall by the wayside easier than we'd like to think. To keep your dental health and skin in check, we recommend investing in a sleek brushing system (we're especially obsessed with Quip) to make the mundane task a little more enjoyable (at least, as enjoyable as brushing your teeth can be).
Sorry for the visual, but as Vershinina says, our tongues essentially act as sponges for bacteria. To keep things clean and in check, she recommends using your toothbrush or an actual tongue scraper like the above for best results.