Good dental hygiene affects much more than just your teeth, which is why many dentists prefer the term oral health. Your body is a system, comprised of many smaller system, and functions best when everything is in balance.
Strong oral health involves more than just brushing and flossing, it involves eating appropriate foods and making smart lifestyle choices. Health improvement is a gradual process, thankfully, there are a number of simple, natural and cost-effective practices to improve your oral health while you consider other health choices.
Brushing and flossing regularly is obviously are good things to do, but are relatively new practices, and can be greatly enhanced by supplementing use of time tested techniques.
A simple strategy to keeping your mouth clean and fresh is to cleanse your palate with water or tea after meals, especially after eating sweets. This is an ancient and straightforward Chinese technique. It makes you wonder why you haven’t heard it emphasized before. You wash your hands before eating, why not wash your mouth out afterwards, especially if you are a fan of dessert. Water is your friend in maintaining good oral health, it is recommended that you rinse your mouth out first thing in the morning and then drink at least one glass of water.
An efficient and fun tool for rinsing the mouth is the Waterpik, an oral irrigator which is considered as effective as floss in reducing plaque. You control a pulsating stream of water similar to what you find in a dentist’s office. The water cleans and stimulates gums and teeth, and is fun and easy to use. Children especially enjoy using the tool, which can help build a lifetime of good practices. The Waterpik is pain free, and has been clinically proven as more effective than floss in treating bleeding and gingivitis in the gums.
Oral irrigators also come in an inexpensive manual version called an oral syringe. They feature a curved plastic tip and give users complete control of the pressure and direction of water streams. Syringes like this can be found online or at most pharmacies. Some are marketed as oral irrigators and some are not, just make sure to get a reusable version with around 12mL water capacity. Oral syringes are recommended for people with braces or who have recently had some type of oral surgery.
Oil pulling is an old Indian technique to detoxify and cleanse the mouth. It works best when done early in the day, ideally before breakfast. Simply put 1-2 teaspoons of high quality vegetable oil (coconut and sesame are most popular) in your mouth and slowly start to swish the liquid around. The oil pulls toxins from all parts of your mouth, to prevent them from damaging your mouth or entering your body. It is especially useful in removing plaque and removing bad bacteria from your oral system. The strong mechanical cleaning action can also make teeth whiter. The process takes about 20 minutes. The oil should be discarded once the oil turns white and becomes thick. It is important to rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water after pulling to fully banish the bacteria and toxins from your temple of teeth. Now is a good time to brush, you will ensure everything harmful is cleansed and you can start getting used to feeling dentist fresh on the daily.
As mentioned before, balancing other systems, namely the digestive, can bring great improvements to oral health. Many people are afflicted by what Chinese medicine refers to as “dampness“. The tongue is a good indicator of an imbalance of dampness. If your tongue is typically covered in a greasy film, or layer of plaque, you have been inviting too much dampness into your system. Brushing and cleaning your tongue is a smart practice, but is really only treating the symptoms of the imbalance. Tongue brushing is also much easier for those with little or no gag reflex. As long as your body is damp, your tongue will be too.
Dampness is caused by a diet high in mucous forming foods. These include ice cream, cold drinks, gluten, sugar and greasy foods. Basically the foods you should avoid if you are coming down with a cold. Alcohol and smoking also cause dampness in the body. Check out this video which discusses some natural Chinese medicine methods to treat a few issues.
If you travel often or find yourself frequently choosing to sleep in places other than your home, you should pack a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. There should be a travel set permanently in your glove box. If you are going out on the town, you should bring a small travel toothbrush, toothpaste isn’t necessary. In the event that you have a romantic encounter, you will be happy to have the option to brush your teeth in the morning, and you have a higher chance of getting a goodbye kiss when all is said and done.
Gum and mouth wash are only temporary fixes to bad breath, it’s nice to have the right tool to clean your mouth on hand when you are away from the house for an unexpected period. Floss is very compact and can be carried everywhere. Some people like to use floss pick, I find the simplest way to bring floss everywhere is in a floss card, many dentists now have business cards which are packed with a surprising length of floss. If your dentist doesn’t have them, one of their competitors will, you can even make a game out of collecting and trading them with your friends.
Improve Your Routine
By incorporating some or all of the above techniques into your routine, you can save a lot of time and money down the road. See what works for you and check in for results after a couple weeks, taking photos can help you track your progress. Strong oral health can be achieved cheaply and naturally, and provides benefits for more than just your mouth – and that’s a good reason to smile.