I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who genuinely enjoys the experience of going to the dentist. I’ll be super honest and tell you that the last time I went to one was over two years ago. Crazy, right? I wouldn’t say this is something I’m particularly proud of, but my husband and I don’t have dental insurance (I am self-employed and he works for a very small startup that doesn’t provide health benefits, so we are self-insured through Obamacare for the time being) thus, there is very little incentive for us to routinely pay out of pocket to get our teeth cleaned. Not to mention, it’s just not a pleasant experience and I’d rather take matters into my own hands and prevent as much as possible if I can.
Over the course of the past year or so, I have developed a pretty regimented practice of holistic oral care that keeps my teeth (& gums) in good shape and, knock on wood, have kept me from needing to get any work done on my teeth. There are five primary practices I keep in place and do (almost) daily to ensure good oral health and I wanted to share them with you, as well as why I am very particular about what products I use.
1. Scrape Your Tongue
I first learned about tongue scraping when I was learning a lot about Ayurveda (the ancient science of nutrition that originates in India) during my yoga teacher training program five years ago. I don’t love the word “scraping” because that makes it sounds painful (it’s not!) but the idea is that you gently pull all of the coating from your tongue first thing in the morning to help remove bacteria from your mouth. In turn, you remove bad breath, taste your food more fully, and help to strengthen your immune and digestive systems.
“When we sleep, our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from our body by depositing them onto the surface of our tongue. If we don’t scrape away these toxins, they get reabsorbed by the body and can lead to respiratory difficulties, digestive problems, and a compromised immune system” (via)
I use this copper tongue scraper every single morning.
This is super self-explanatory but make sure to floss before you oil pull and/or brush your teeth because it helps to loosen up all of the food particles and bacteria stuck in between your teeth.
I recently found this floss and am completely obsessed!
3. Oil Pull
You may have heard of oil pulling as it’s become more popular over the past few years, but this is another ancient practice that stems from the science of Ayurveda. The idea behind oil pulling is that when you swish around some unrefined oil (I use coconut oil) in your mouth for anywhere between 10-20 minutes, you help to remove bacteria, toxins and parasites from your system. Additionally, oil pulling helps to get rid of mucus and congestion from your throat and sinuses (great for seasonal allergies!), remove heavy metals from your lymphatic system, and has been known to whiten your teeth as well!
I take a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil (this is my favorite brand), swish it around in my mouth while I get ready for the day (usually about 10-15 minutes), and then spit it out in the trash (don’t spit it in the sink or toilet as it can clog drains!!). This is one of my very favorite practices and I’ve noticed a dramatic difference in the health of my teeth and gums since implementing it a few years ago.
4. Brush with Flouride-Free Toothpaste
Back in the 1940’s, the United States started adding flouride to the public water system with very to little research to prove that it is actually efficient in preventing cavities (what is most well-known for). Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that flouride is actually an incredibly harmful neurotoxin (alongside heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic). While I am absolutely no expert in the field, I have done quite a bit of research about the dangers of flouride and the findings alone are enough for me to play it safe with this one. Flouride has been shown to cause arthritic symptoms, reduce thyroid function, slow down neural development in children and negatively affect fertility in both men and women.
There is actually an entire documentary on the dangers of Flouride that you can watch here if you’d like to learn more.
In my attempt to avoid flouride in my toothpaste (also currently on the hunt for a good water filter that gets rid of flouride), I have tried a few different flouride-free options and here are my favorites so far:
This Mineral Paste from Holistic Science Co. (pictured above).
David’s is amazing and available on Amazon! (bonus: beautiful branding!)
Tom’s of Maine has flouride-free options and is easy to find at your local Whole Foods.
5. Use A Biodegradable + Natural Fiber Toothbrush
Did you guys know that over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are dumped into landfills every single year worldwide? I am by no means a perfect consumer, but after reading this statistic I just don’t think I can go back to plastic toothbrushes, especially because finding a more sustainable alternative is so easy. I’ve switched over to using these bamboo toothbrushes that use BPA-free bristles and I am completely obsessed. I never thought the soft non-plastic bristles would make a difference but brushing my teeth just doesn’t feel as agressive as it used to. Plus, the bamboo is biodegradable and pretty!
So, there you have it! What do you think of switching up your oral hygeine routine? If you have any questions please let me know!