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Ayurvedic Oral and Dental Care




Tooth decay is one of the oldest and most common ailments of humanity. It's caused by a buildup of bacteria, which produces acid and breaks down enamel. The ancient texts of Ayurveda provide excellent methods for taking care of oral and dental health. 


Brushing, flossing, and taking care of your teeth and gums every day is very important for maintaining a healthy smile. This is an essential Ayurvedic concept called dinacharya, which is a Sanskrit word for "daily routine." 


Consider using these Ayurvedic practices to support your teeth, mouth, and whole system remain healthy and happy for years to come.


Chewing sticks


Chewing sticks are an effective way to remove bacteria and prevent plaque in the mouth. Neem trees provide antibacterial properties and freshness, making great chewing sticks. Try chewing on neem after meals to clean the mouth.

This is a great alternative to brushing immediately after eating, not only to avoid the awkward details of a travel brush and spitting in a public restroom, but because brushing immediately after eating can actually harm your teeth. It's recommended to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. This allows tooth enamel to remineralize before introducing the vigorous bristles of brushing. Go ahead and chew on that neem stick, though.

Neem dental floss and toothpaste are also effective antibacterial oral care. If you're interested, you can find these items online or at health food stores, like Staff of Life. We recommend continuing to brush and floss twice a day in addition to any Ayurvedic oral care.

Another well-known Ayurvedic practice for oral care is gandusha, translated as gargling or oil pulling.


Oil Pulling


A number of scientific publications indicate that this practice of swishing oil between teeth and around the mouth removes bacteria from the mouth and prevents and tooth decay. The effects demonstrated are comparable to the benefits of using conventional mouthwash intended for oral hygiene. Both clinical and microbiological assessments demonstrate that oil pulling is very effective against plaque and gingivitis. More large-scale studies need to be done before wide-spread clinical support of the practice is possible. Raw, organic oil has antimicrobial properties, and adding turmeric to the oil could promote the health of gums by reducing inflammation.


In the Charaka Samhita, an original Ayurvedic text describes further benefits of oil pulling, including systemic benefits to the whole body, remedy for issues like headaches, and more. The tongue is thought to be directly connected to internal organs. By removing ama, or toxins, from the mouth, oil pulling is thought to help prevent disease and promote holistic health. Further, it is likely that oil pulling  promotes healthy bacteria to flourish in the mouth, and could support a healthy microbiome in the gut. These ideas have not yet been researched by modern science.


How to do it:


You will need:

  • 1 Tablespoon of raw organic sesame oil or coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder (optional), mixed very well into the Tbsp of oil. This may be easier to do with the coconut oil if you warm it until it's melted.

  • A paper towel or napkin, or a small bowl to spit into.

Take the oil into your mouth, without swallowing.Swish the oil between teeth and around the mouth for 3-4 minutes. Don't spit the oil in the sink, as it can clog pipes. Instead, spit the oil in a towel and throw in the trash, or find an area in your garden to dispose of the oil.

Be gentle as you swoosh the oil in your mouth. Take care especially not to swallow or inhale the oil.

Practice 3-4 times a week, or daily.

Notes: Oil pulling can't replace the benefits of brushing and flossing daily, so do both.

Do I brush before or after oil pulling?There is some concern in the dental community that brushing directly after oil pulling could weaken the enamel. This risk is not supported or denied by evidence, but is related to the fact that brushing immediately after eating acidic or sugary foods weakens the enamel. Waiting about 30 minutes allows tooth enamel to remineralize and build itself back up before introducing the vigorous bristles of brushing. This rule may be applied to oil pulling to deny any possibly of this risk. Or, brush your teeth before oil pulling.


Happy teeth: Best practice with foods


Along with daily cleaning, good eating habits can benefit our teeth.


  • Chew and eating hard, raw vegetables like carrots and leafy greens. These have a positive effect on our teeth by increasing saliva flow, balancing oral pH, and cleaning small bits of sugar and sticky foods that otherwise buildup and promote bacteria growth.


  • Eat Calcium-rich foods like figs, yogurt, tofu, cheese, leafy greens, and almonds. Provide the body with calcium for mineral development--this strengthens tooth enamel!


  • Drink plenty of water. Water flushes out little bits of food and sugar can harbor bacteria growth. Hydration is key for healthy saliva flow, which keeps everything moving like a clean stream or river.


  • Be mindful of snacks! Constant snacking, even on healthy foods, is disruptive to the mouth's pH (acidity level). This can cause tooth decay! Eating mostly during mealtimes is good for both your digestive health and oral health.


  •  Swooshing water, flossing, or chewing on neem after meals is best practice for maintaining good-smelling breath and healthy teeth.


Wishing you a healthy smile and a long life!Article by Luisa Rounds


Sources:


Role of Ayurveda in Management of Oral Health. Torwane, Hongal, Goel, Chandrashekar. 2014.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24600192/

"Brushing immediately after meals? You may want to wait." Colombia University Medical Center. 2022. https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/brushing-immediately-after-meals-you-may-want-wait


5/9/24

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