A Guide to Holistic Dental Care
The state of our oral health is a great indicator of what may be going on deeper within our bodies. Common issues such as cavities, gingivitis, halitosis, and oral thrush are 2often indicative of an ecological imbalance in the mouth - just as there is a microbiome in the gut, there is one in the mouth. Eating excessive amounts of processed sugars and not enough minerals and fat-soluble vitamins can lead to bacterial overgrowth in the mouth which can wear away enamel, cause tooth decay, bad breath, and receding gums. Thankfully there are many holistic ways to prevent these issues from occurring and restore any existing issues back into balance.
The demand for holistic dental care alternatives has surged in the past few years as more information comes to light about the chemicals found in regular toothpaste, mouthwash, and even standard dental fillings. Not only do these chemicals add to our toxic load, but many of them are hormone disruptors and heavy metals which can disturb our endocrine systems, liver, and metabolism. The following guide includes some effective natural alternatives to conventional oral care.
The Oral Microbiome
The microbiome is so important. It is present in our gut, skin, and mouth and consists of both good and bad bacteria. Having too much bad, or even too much good, bacteria can cause problems. It’s the right balance between the two that will promote a healthy immune system and protect us from viruses, disease, and infection.
In our mouth, we have bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay, and then we have bacteria that will help prevent both of these. Traditional toothpaste and mouthwash from the store typically contain harsh chemicals that can destroy the good bacteria and allow the bad bacteria to stick around. We will always have bad bacteria; we have to…but when we kill the good bacteria we create a good environment for bad bacteria to flourish. If this happens, problems will occur which is why lifestyle and diet can be used to help support our good bacteria.
Ways to support our good bacteria:
· Avoid sugar, gluten, processed foods, vegetable oils
· Use natural and biological mouth products
· Supplement with fish oil, minerals, vitamin c
· Drink filtered water
· Eat plenty of vegetables and healthy fats for essential fatty acids and minerals
There are a few ways to detect if your oral microbiome is off-balance, there are signs and symptoms that can be seen simply by taking a peek inside our mouths. You can start off by observing your tongue and its surface. The tongue is an important organ that can tell us a lot about our oral health along with what is happening inside the body. Ayurvedic healing uses the tongue as an organ of diagnosis for total body imbalance. Oral microbiome imbalances may be present if you can see a thick white coating on the surface of the tongue, mucus, constant bad breath, inflamed gums, tooth decay, or a combination of any of these visible symptoms. It's important to pay close attention to your mouth and tongue daily for optimal oral care.
Holistic Dental Care
Electric toothbrush: If you’re a lazy brusher (and many people are), then an electric toothbrush may be for you. For many people, brushing our teeth in the morning and night has turned into what seems like a chore. Some people don’t even brush their teeth twice a day! This is a huge problem because we actually have to pay close attention to brushing each tooth in order to help remove plaque. If you fall into this category, the electric toothbrush can assist in removing plaque faster because of the size/shape of the brush head and its oscillation speed. A few swipes around each tooth and it’s done for you!
Here are some alternative options to toothpaste which contain probiotics, essential oils and other ingredients that will help balance the oral microbiome, promote healthy gums and strong teeth, and provide minerals.
Tooth serum: These get absorbed right into the gums while fighting inflammation, plaque, and bad bacteria. Tooth serums balance the oral microbiome while providing powerful botanicals that will help strengthen and heal. Rub it on your gums, add it to your toothpaste or swish it around with water like a mouthwash, then rinse as usual.
DIY Tooth Serum: Mix - Cinnamon leaf, Spearmint oil, Peppermint oil, Clove oil, Myrrh, Manuka honey, Jojoba oil
Tooth powder: Each ingredient in tooth powder is used to strengthen, promote healthy teeth and gums, and whiten your teeth without added fillers.
Remineralizing toothpaste: This helps to replace the lost minerals in teeth and strengthen the enamel. Simple clean, toothpaste can be bought at health foods stores or made at home.
Try: Making your own! Mix 1.5-2 parts of coconut oil + 1 part baking soda + 1 part xylitol. Add 20 drops of either peppermint or clove oil for extra benefits and for taste. For extra mineralization, add trace minerals (20 drops) or calcium powder (2 parts). To adjust the texture to your liking, add more or less coconut oil. Lastly, add 1 part activated charcoal for deep stain removal.
Mouth Wash: Filtered Water + sea salt + peppermint essential oil is a great mouthwash to use morning and night. It provides minerals to the teeth and gums, and also helps with alkalizing the mouth.
DIY mouth rinse:
2 c Mason Jar (or jar of choice)
2 tbsp Dried Yarrow herb
2 c Water
Yarrow is a perfect herb to use as a mouth rinse for its wound healing, pain relieving, and bacteria-balancing properties.Place herbs in a mason jar. Boil water and then cover the herbs. Cover the jar and let it steep for four hours. Strain and enjoy as a mouth rinse!
Flossing: There is a reason why we are always reminded to floss, it's an important part of dental care. Daily flossing will help to remove the food that may get stuck in the small spaces of our teeth, while also removing trapped bacteria and plaque. Removing these elements daily will help you fight bleeding gums, gingivitis and gum disease, and prevent tartar from forming. Start by incorporating flossing once daily into your dental routine. Once you get into a flow with it you can ideally floss 1-2x per day.
◦Using about a foot in floss, wrapping the ends at both middle fingers
◦Slide the floss in between each tooth while forming a C-shape for more efficient access
◦Once between two teeth, saw the floss back & forth and in all directions, covering as much space as possible.
When picking a floss to purchase, look for an all-natural option that doesn't contain PFOA (chemical contaminants) or non-stick compounds.
Tongue scraping: it is often forgotten that the tongue, just like the teeth, is a large organ in the mouth which can host lots of bacteria, leading to halitosis (chronic bad breath), oral thrush, gingivitis, and cavities. The Ayurvedic practice of thoroughly cleansing the tongue with a copper tongue scraper is an excellent method for removing excess ‘ama’ or toxic material. Not only does it remove bacteria and undigested food particles, but it can help to enhance the sensitivity of the taste buds and improve digestive health, too.
Try: Scraping your tongue first thing in the morning before brushing your teeth or drinking water.
Nourishment for Cavity prevention & oral care
Eat mineral rich foods: There are key nutrients required for the maintenance of healthy teeth and the reversal of tooth decay. Calcium is the most prominent of them. However, calcium needs both phosphorus and vitamin D in order to assist in absorption. Furthermore, vitamin K2 directs calcium throughout the body and assists in the growth, repair, and remineralization of teeth. A diet high in colorful vegetables, leafy greens, and organic eggs and fish should provide all of these nutrients. For extra support, invest in a high potency multi-mineral supplement.
Try: Eating colorful vegetables and leafy greens with 2-3 meals each day.
Omit refined sugars: Consuming an excessive amount of refined sugars is a surefire way to get cavities as bacteria in the mouth are allowed to proliferate rapidly in the presence of concentrated simple sugars. Sugars are also acidic, meaning that alkaline minerals like calcium will be pulled from the teeth to neutralize the acidity. This can lead to the decalcification of teeth leading to decay and cavities.
Try: Consuming fresh whole foods for the majority of your diet. Reach for alternative sources of sweet like fruits or sweeteners like raw honey, organic maple syrup
Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s can help you to maintain healthy teeth and prevent gum disease by reducing the decay that can occur between the gums and teeth. Omega-3s can be found in fish such as salmon, herring and sardines. Always choose wild-caught fish from organic sources because farm-raised fish contain many toxic substances. Omega-3s can also be found in capsule form.
Try: Consuming Omega-3-rich fish 2-3 times a week, or supplementing daily. Vegan sources include: walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and natto.
Natural Teeth Whitening
Oil pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic technique used to eliminate excess bacteria in the mouth, helping to prevent plaque, cavities, bad breath and gum disease. In this technique, coconut or sesame oil is swished around in the mouth for 10-20 minutes and spit out. Afterward, you can rinse out the mouth and brush teeth as you normally would. Consistent oil pulling can give you less sensitive and whiter teeth, as well as fresh breath and a cleaner mouth overall.
Try: Oil pulling nightly before bed. Start at 1 minute and work your way up to 10 minutes. Be sure to spit the oil out in the garbage as it can harden and clog up drain pipes if spat down the sink or in the toilet.
Activated Charcoal: Dip your toothbrush into some activated charcoal and brush your teeth for a few minutes. This is a fast and effective way to remove stains and whiten your teeth. Charcoal is amazing at detoxifying the body and the mouth!
Baking Soda & ACV: Make a paste with baking soda and water and then use your toothbrush to coat your teeth using the paste. Take 1 tsp of ACV in water and swish in your mouth for 30 seconds. The reaction of the ACV with the baking soda deeply cleanses your teeth and gums and allows your mouth to alkalinize naturally.
Oral Care Routine
Eat a diet full of leafy greens, vegetables, bone broth, minerals, and healthy fats.
Avoid sugar, vegetable oils, and grains that have yet to be soaked/sprouted
Brush your teeth in the morning and before bed
Rinse at night with the mineral mouthwash
Floss 1-2x per day
Take a good quality probiotic
Oil pull 2-3x per week
Whiten your teeth with activated charcoal