For most of my adult life, I didn’t really pay much attention to my teeth. I have been really blessed to have relatively straight teeth that didn’t need braces. I brushed daily but mostly didn’t floss, went to the dentist yearly, got fillings in my cavities and that was that.
Okay, it is true that I avoided fluoride (mostly easy due to living in Europe where our tap water wasn’t fluoridated) and at some point I learned about the dangers of mercury fillings so I started getting non-amalgam fillings when I needed them. In the past few years, I read some of Weston Price and also switched to a non-glycerin based toothpaste (ToothSoap is the brand we first discovered and used-it is EXPENSIVE though!)
Towards the end of my pregnancy with Amethyst, I started having some mouth trouble. Not a whole lot, but there was a tooth that I was aware of a lot. About a month after I gave birth, one day all hell broke loose and it HURT. Like curled up in fetal position while my newborn cried her eyes out in the cot because I was in too much pain to even take care of her pain. So bad. I had a drug-free birth, but this was so bad i would have taken anything!! In desperation I called my yoga teacher who happened to have pain pills from when her husband had surgery. That allowed me to sleep and figure it out.
I didn’t really know what to do, but ended up at a holistic dentistry practice. It was amazing, and so different to any other dental experience I had ever had. The dentist spoke with me about my lifestyle and my diet and then did a thorough work up of my mouth, explaining to me the exact state of my teeth, which teeth had mercury fillings and which of those were cracked and/or leaching, which teeth had cavities and where, etc. and then prioritized them for me in order of importance. I still have a lot of it left to do, but I feel more empowered and responsible for the health of my mouth.
Here are a few of the practices and products that I find to be especially beneficial:
1. Oil pulling. This ancient Ayurvedic technique involves simply swishing an oil, traditionally sesame or coconut, in the mouth and “pulling” it back and forth through the teeth for about 10 minutes. It is said to actually leach toxins from the body, rid the mouth of bacteria, reduce plaque and generally rejuvenate the mouth and body. I use olive oil because I don’t mind the taste, but sesame oil is traditional. I’ve used coconut, almond and sunflower oils as well, and I notice that when I do it regularly that my teeth are whiter and cleaner looking regardless of the type of oil used. Use what you have on hand and when it’s time to buy more or when you can afford it, get something especially for your mouth.
Pro tip: While I am not generally an advocate of essential oil use, this is one place where I do use them and feel that used safely and in proper dilutions, they can be an awesome addition to your oil pulling oil. I like to make a blend with clove, frankincense, mint and something else aromatic and antibacterial such as thyme, rosemary, oregano etc. I’ve been experimenting with some herbal infused oils as well, and will fill you in on those results when I am finished!
2. Use a non-glycerin based toothpaste. This is hard if you look for a “natural” toothpaste because all of the major brands contain glycerin. The reason why it is best to avoid these toothpastes is because glycerin coats the teeth, making it impossible for them to re-mineralize when we eat nutrient dense foods and mineral rich foods Do you drink green juice? Bone broth? Well, it isn’t helping your teeth any if they can’t absorb it! I use this toothpaste now: Earthpaste because I can get it locally. It gets bonus points for having xylitol, which is known to strengthen teeth and gums and for having all food based ingredients. I have made my own toothpastes and tooth powders in the past, to varying degrees of success. Although I have made some that I liked well enough, I haven’t found MY recipe yet, so in the meantime to save time and money on ingredients for experimentation I just use the Earthpaste.
3. Floss. Seriously, do it. Every day. I find that if I go more than two days without flossing, my gums begin to bleed and recede. No bueno. Try to get a natural floss that doesn’t have flouride on it (yes, the regular ones have it sometimes- make sure you check).
4. Mouthwash. While I would love to say that we don’t need it, the truth is that sometimes you want your breath to be smelling extra good! You could always go super low tech and chew on fresh fennel (or seeds), mint or parsley. It works! If you want something a little more traditional though, one of the ways that I love to make a mouthwash is to take a cup of really strong herbal tea (I like to use a combination of aromatics- mint, sage, rosemary, oregano and mineral rich herbs like horsetail, nettles and oatstraw), add in a few different herbal tinctures I am working with at the time (sometimes for flavor- extra mint, rosemary, sometimes for effect- astringents to tone the gums like oak gall, blackberry leaf or antimicrobials like echinacea, mahonia or yarrow). I go easy on the tinctures though because the alcohol is a little harsh for the flora of your mouth. Yes, it decimates the bad bacteria, but that means the good bacteria which actually prevent tooth decay as well. In turn, the bad bacteria flourish unchecked and it becomes a vicious cycle. We don’t want that to happen, so make sure your tea doesn’t have too much of the tincture in. That means that it spoils more readily so you need to make a new batch quite often. A lot of the more natural alternatives use glycerin. Not good, as per above.
5. Learn to brush! Go with the grain of your teeth, and gently does it. Make sure you get in the pocket between your teeth and your gums, right under where the gum line is. A small head, medium firm toothbrush is my favorite for getting in there. Change it often! I also spray colloidal silver on mine periodically.
6. Tongue scraping. This can feel super weird and isn’t exactly necessary but once you see the gunk you scrape off, it really is worth it to invest in a good tongue scraper to use at least once every couple of weeks. We have Dr. Tungs tongue scraper found here but when it is time to buy a new one, we will probably invest in a copper one.
For extra information-
Living Libations has some incredible tooth care products, and while totally worth it, are too spendy for my budget right now. Owner Nadine Artemis does have a lot of free information about botanical dental care and the website is worth checking out for that.
Are there any practices or products that you can’t live without?