Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacterium that can cause stomach ulcers and digestive symptoms. If you are having trouble getting rid of H. pylori, your doctor should be treating both your mouth and your stomach because H. pylori can live in both places. H. pylori can even live on your toothbrush! If you have bad breath, tongue inflammation, canker sores, or periodontal disease, you may have H. pylori in the mouth. It is even more concerning if you have H. pylori stomach symptoms such as a family history of stomach cancer, heartburn, ulcers, nausea, vomiting, fullness, poor digestion, or even excessive burping. In patients that have recurrent H. pylori infection after treatment, check out the oral cavity. It can be a source of antibiotic-resistant H. pylori. There are natural treatments to get rid of Helicobacter pylori, which you can find here and on my blog “Stomach Ulcer and Bad Breath? This Infamous Mouth Bacteria Can Explain Why You Have Both”
Hey, this is Cass Nelson-Dooley, author of Heal Your Oral Microbiome. I’m here to talk today about a bug that we really think of as a gut bug that can really cause some problems. But guess what? It also lives in the mouth and that bug is Helicobacter pylori, also known as H. pylori. This bug is infamous all over the world; in fact, one in two people on the planet earth carry this bacteria.
However, it’s infamous because it can really cause a lot of trouble in certain people. It can cause gastric cancer or stomach cancer. It can cause ulcers, it can cause stomach pain, reflux, nausea, vomiting, all kinds of problems. And when you treat H. pylori, often with antibiotics or natural treatments, those symptoms can go away. So H. pylori has a lot of interest and research done on it in the world.
But one of the very interesting things that scientists are looking at closely is that H. pylori lives in the mouth, too, and in fact, H. pylori living in the mouth, hiding from antibiotic treatment and dental biofilms in the mouth could be the reason that treating H. pylori is so difficult. In fact, even triple therapy or quadruple antibiotic therapies do not always get rid of H. pylori and it can be very frustrating. Well, one of the things is that it could be that H. pylori is living in the mouth, and if it’s not gotten rid of, it can continually reinfect the stomach. So that makes the mouth an important player in treating the gut. And that is my recommendation that we will treat both the mouth and the gut to get rid of H. pylori infections.
Now there’s research that shows that people who get their regular dental hygiene are less likely to get reinfected with H. pylori after treatment and people who don’t get their regular dental hygiene are 85% more likely to get reinfected. There are symptoms of H. pylori in the mouth that you may want to know about, especially if you have any of these things like bad breath or burning tongue or a swollen inflamed tongue, canker sores or cavities, even a squamous cell cancer in the mouth can come from H.pylori.
So this isn’t always a friend in the mouth either, especially if it gets into high numbers or overgrowth. So you can read more about this in my blog on H. pylori. I also talk about it in my book Heal Your Oral Microbiome. In terms of treatment, there are two things. In addition to treating the mouth, when you treat the gut for H. pylori, two important things I would say for getting rid of H. Pylori once and for all would befirst to keep up with dental hygiene and and dental cleanings as a way to address and prevent reinfection of H pylori in the stomach. And then second would be changing your toothbrush. So there is not conclusive evidence that H.pylori is living on our toothbrushes. But it’s pretty likely, in my opinion, based on the research, when people share toothbrushes, they’re more likely to get H. pylori. And there’s actually a couple of lines of evidence that suggest that it could be living on toothbrushes. The best thing I can think of is for you to change your toothbrush when you are first being treated for H. pylori
and then again at the end. So keep your mouth healthy as a way to keep your gut healthy. This is something I think we’ll be doing more and more of in the future. Thanks for listening.
Cass Nelson-Dooley, MS, is a researcher, author, educator, and laboratory consultant. She studied medicinal plants in the rain forests of Panama as a Fulbright Scholar and then launched a career in science and natural medicine. Early on, she studied ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, and drug discovery at the University of Georgia and AptoTec, Inc. She joined innovators at Metametrix Clinical Laboratory as a medical education consultant helping clinicians use integrative and functional laboratory results in clinical practice. She owns Health First Consulting, LLC, a medical communications company with the mission to improve human health using the written word. Ms. Nelson-Dooley is an oral microbiome expert and author of Heal Your Oral Microbiome. She was a contributing author in Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine and Case Studies in Integrative and Functional Medicine. She has published case studies, book chapters, and journal articles about the oral microbiome, natural medicine, nutrition, laboratory testing, obesity, and osteoporosis.