When it comes to our teeth we perhaps don’t put as much energy into maintaining them as we do the rest of our bodies. Brush and floss at least twice a day – that’s the generally accepted advice from the dental industry on how to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Simple.
However, a growing tide of research is pointing towards an alternative way to maintain good oral health – and in turn prevent the occurrence of even more serious illnesses.
What many people don’t know is that a healthy mouth is essential for a healthy body. Your mouth is home to both good and bad bacteria, but when the bad bacteria gets into the bloodstream it can cause havoc in the rest of the body.
For instance, people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event, according to Harvard Medical School.
Gum disease is caused by bacterial growth from a build-up of plaque in the mouth which can lead to inflammation. Similarly, cardiovascular – or heart – disease is caused by a build-up of plaque in the arteries. Untreated inflammation in your mouth can result in bacteria entering the bloodstream, which can in turn cause inflammation in other parts of the body.
So making sure we look after our mouths is vital in preventing not just oral diseases, but chronic diseases too.
I brush my teeth – so what more can I do?
Of course, daily brushing and flossing are obvious ways to ensure good oral hygiene. But there’s been much debate surrounding the toothpastes that are widely available to us, particularly in light of research into some for the ingredients routinely found in the most popular brands.
The Zhang Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found in its 2018 research that the chemical triclosan, commonly found in toothpaste, may aggravate inflammation in the gut and contribute to colon cancer. Similarly, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – an additive that allows products to foam – can cause irritation in skin products. Although studies on the effects of SLS on the mouth have produced mixed results, several studies have shown that SLS-free toothpaste helps heal mouth ulcers.
And if you’re Coeliac you need to pay close attention to the ingredients in your toothpaste. Gluten is used in many products – including toothpaste – as a thickening agent. Unless a brand states its toothpaste is gluten free, we advise you to avoid it. See a list of gluten free toothpastes here.
So now you know about toothpaste, how do you minimise the risk of the potential effects of the chemicals in the big brands?
While there isn’t just a single remedy for improving your oral health, there are some important steps you can take to detox your mouth and remineralise it to prevent the build-up of bacteria and toxins that lead to plaque. A mouth that contains bacteria and toxins makes the body an easy target for infections and diseases.
Research going as far back as the 1930s has shown that remineralising your teeth can actually reverse tooth decay, saving you from a trip to the dentist for a filling. A study by Sydney University in 2015 found that early tooth decay can be reversed with the right diet and teeth cleaning methods.
Never heard of remineralising? Coupled with a balanced diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugar, using remineralising promoters such as tooth powder will rebalance our teeth-rebuilding elements such as calcium and phosphate. Tooth remineralisation has also been found to reduce sensitivity in teeth, and reduce pain associated with tooth decay. And let’s not forget the saving you’ll make on all the dental work. In a 2013 clinical trial of tooth powder composed of calcium carbonate and essential oils, the study found powder to be statistically more effective than toothpaste in controlling extrinsic dental staining, dental plaque and gingival inflammation. And the great thing about remineralising tooth powder is that you can make it yourself as well as buy it online.
An even quicker option is buying dental probiotics to repopulate the mouth with the bacteria that’s responsible for fighting cavities – and the great news is these essential supplements are also available for kids and promote upper respiratory health, including ears, nose, throat, and teeth in children.
Dental amalgam (silver) fillings
Dental amalgam fillings contain mercury, and have been used by dentists for more than 150 years. However, mercury is extremely toxic and can lead to mercury poisoning. Dental amalgam fillings are made up of 50% mercury and, according to the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), the vapour from the mercury is continuously emitted, and much of it is absorbed and retained in the body. In recent years a number of countries have banned or limited their use.
Of course, there are alternatives available such as composite resin, glass ionomer, porcelain, and gold. Consult your dentist for advice on how to replace them.
But if you’re really serious about your oral health, why not give your mouth a regular detox? There are several ways to keep your mouth in peak condition:
- Tongue Scraping
Tongue scraping is the one thing you can do tonight to improve your oral hygiene immediately. Yes, it is that effective. As discussed at the beginning of this blog post, the tongue is a hot real estate for plaque build-up. So use a stainless steel tongue scraper twice a day and remove the build-up from your tongue gently. In case you like to save the 3 seconds to reach for your tongue scraper and prefer to ‘clean’ your tongue with your toothbrush, think again. A toothbrush is unable to remove bacteria from the tongue and sometimes, it might push the bacteria deeper.
- Organic Toothpaste
Since toothpaste is the major source of harmful chemicals, it makes sense to swap it out for a natural one, or better, something homemade. This is our favourite DIY remineralising toothpaste and our go-to DIY tooth powder (recipes below).
- Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic process used to deep-clean teeth and discourage occurrence of cavities. In this process, you take a spoonful of oil (coconut/ sesame/ sunflower oil) and swish it in your mouth, pulling at it to make sure it passes between your teeth. Adding clove essential oil into the oil aids tooth whitening as well as hygiene. After pulling for up to 20 minutes, spit the oil out and rinse your mouth. This process helps get rid of the toxins in your mouth.
- Ionic toothbrush
In order to get rid of plaque build-up effectively, opt for an ionic toothbrush. These toothbrushes look and feel the same as their regular counterparts but they help immensely in getting rid of plaque from teeth.
The great thing about remineralising tooth powder is that you can make it yourself.
Summertime Remineralising Toothpaste Recipe
- 5 parts Calcium powder
- 2 parts Baking Soda
- 3-5 parts coconut oil
- Optional ingredients:
- 3 parts Xylitol Powder (to reduce bitterness)
- Essential oils for flavour – clove essential oil has whitening qualities
Process: Mix all the above ingredients in a glass bowl and store in a jar.
Get the original recipe here.
- A few more amazing ways to detox your mouth: http://thechalkboardmag.com/detox-your-mouth-9-holistic-oral-health-treatments
- Why you should get on the tongue scraping bandwagon: http://thechalkboardmag.com/simplest-health-tip-ever-why-you-should-be-tongue-scraping
- In-depth read on the toxins in toothpaste and how they affect our health: http://accidental-greenie.blogspot.hk/2017/03/1.html
- Make your own tooth powder: https://it-takes-time.com/2015/07/14/diy-tooth-powder/
- Help your teeth fight cavities with this brilliant DIY remineralising toothpaste recipe: https://wellnessmama.com/2500/remineralizing-toothpaste/