Your Mouth: Window to the Body
A few years ago, I did away with conventional toothpastes and mouth washes for good. No more sugar, artificial sweeteners, or chemical-fortified mystery cocktails on my toothbrush. Our mouths and gums are some of the most absorbent points of the body, and the health of our mouths reflect the health of our bodies as a whole.
Recently I noticed a very sensitive spot on my tooth right near the gum line. I poked at it, and sure enough, I was developing a cavity. This didn't seem too strange after reflecting on the months of working in cafes, eating baked sweets (sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our mouths, contributing to cavities), drinking plenty of coffee (highly acidic, eroding enamel and causing tooth decay), and failing to stay hydrated throughout the day (remember to drink water in winter!).
I did some reading about a study done on children with cavities, and they were divided into three groups. The group that was given a grain-free whole foods diet had a nearly 100% reversal of their cavities. To some, this may sound made up - but we often don't conduct tests on ourselves, opting to rather have ailments professionally handled before there's any potential for more issues. This is my usual route as well, but this time I'm trying something different, and attempting to reverse my cavity. I have shifted my eating drastically, removing most gluten and refined sugars, cooking at home in order to trust the ingredients in my meals, and have made a point to take my vitamins (zinc, vitamin D, and L-lysine during the winter especially) regularly. I've kept water by my side at all times, too. And I've noticed a change. The sensitive spot on my tooth has become more subtle, and it seems to be legitimately decreasing.
There are some simple steps that can be taken to help our dental and oral health without much effort, and one of the most important is minding what we're brushing with.
Main Offenders found in Conventional Pastes:
- Triclosan - Alters hormone regulation, damaging to the immune system.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate - (SLS) An added carcinogenic foaming agent that increases risks of tissue damage and cancer.
- Fluoride - Increases calcification, weakens thyroid and skeletal system - including teeth.
- Diethanolamine - (DEA) A carcinogenic skin irritant.
Many of us take our mouths and teeth for granted, either forgetting or lacking awareness of the relationship between oral heath and the body. It's simple to maintain oral hygiene, as long as care and a few simple guidelines are followed.
Maintaining Oral Health:
Stay hydrated - Ever notice the connection between bad breath and dry mouth? drinking water keeps our saliva healthy and plentiful. Saliva is our mouths natural cleansing agent.
Eat for your teeth - Foods rich in calcium and phosphorous (seeds, yogurt, grass-finished beef, farm fresh eggs, and nuts, to name a few) love your teeth and gums. And eat your water! Juicy foods like cucumber, lettuce, carrots, berries, celery, or apples keep your body nutrient dense, and your mouth hydrated. Vitamin D is essential as well, which can be found in fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, tofu - or most opulently, in sunlight.
Change your toothpaste - Really! Quit using pastes that are hurting more than helping. (See list of suggested products below)
Scrape that tongue - This maintains cleanliness in the mouth by removing undigested foods, toxins and bacteria from the tongue that feed stagnant bacteria and causes halitosis.
Practice oil pulling - Done with organic sesame or coconut oil, oil pulling is a brilliant Ayurvedic technique that can be done after brushing and flossing, from 5-20 minutes. The mouth houses millions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other toxins, and the oil literally pulls them out of the mouth before any have the chance of invading the body. It even benefits the skin, and can aid in hormone balancing.
Brush with care - Are you a person who has a toothbrush with bristles that part down the middle? You're brushing way too hard. Toothbrushing doesn't have to be an endurance sport! Slow down. Treat it more like a vigorous massage for your teeth and gums. Use circular movements, and remember to brush behind the teeth, too.
Uh, stop smoking - Did you know that smoking doesn't just lead to a dry mouth, smelly breath, yellow teeth and a gross cough, but it actually contributes to gum disease and can change your bone structure - sometimes causing teeth to fall out. Smoking impairs blood flow to the teeth, too.
Floss - ....because floss, but use your floss mindfully. No need to wrap around your finger more than once. Floss is made of nylon (which does not decompose and is polluting the oceans and the animals who call it home), or, more "sustainably," made with silk (silkworms are boiled alive for production).
Maintaining dental and oral health is to take care of your entire body! Make it happen. Your body will thank you, starting with a smile.
Products I Love
- The Goodwell Company (sustainable, subscription-based, nontoxic)
- Brush with Bamboo Toothbrush
- Gaia Guy Goods (tongue scraper, bamboo toothbrush)
- Eco-Dent Baking Soda Toothpowder (perfect for traveling)
- Eco-Dent Daily Rinse (alcohol free, made with essential oils)
- Uncle Harry's All Natural Tooth Powder (SO useful and affordable)
- Tom's of Maine Floss