Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Your gut health has a large impact on your oral health. There are several ayurvedic daily practices you can use to maintain healthy oral hygiene, but a healthy gut and microbial balance is necessary as well. Staying hydrated is one of the most important ways of combating bad breath. Eating a diet full of fresh and organic fruits and veggies that keep the gut clean and moving properly also helps in diminishing bad breath and acid reflux. However, keeping the gut balanced is not the only way you can keep that smile sparkling white and looking fresh.
According to Ayurveda, digestion begins on the tongue. This also makes our mouths one of the passages of detoxes while we sleep. Bacteria, fungi, dead cells and toxins building on the tongue, contributing to bad morning breath. This makes the mouth one of the most important areas of the body to address as soon as you wake up. Removing this build up is absolutely necessary because the body will reabsorb it causing lower digestive fire (agni). Lower agni allows for more toxins (ama) to build in the body and does not allow for proper assimilation of nutrients as well as lower the immune system.
In an Ayurvedic morning routine you would typically use the bathroom as well as brush your teeth and tongue scrape as soon as you wake up. Tongue scraping is similar to brushing your teeth with a toothbrush, however the copper of a tongue scraper is anti-bacterial. This is why just brushing your tongue does not cut it. Recent dental research has approved of tongue scraping and claims it is the best way to remove bacteria and toxins from the mouth compared to simply brushing it. By cleaning the surface of the tongue, your taste buds activate your intestines to begin elimination. This is an important step in your detoxification in the morning and allows for proper digestion the rest of the day. Start your day by brushing your teeth and scraping that tongue! Tongue scrapers are extremely affordable and do not require much time to be added into your morning routine. Copper tongue scrapers are the traditional ayurvedic tool, however if you want to avoid a heavy metal like copper, stainless steel tongue scrapers are also available.
How to Tongue Scrape:
Hold the scraper with both hands.
Looking in the mirror, stick out your tongue as far as you can and place the scraper as far back on your tongue as you can without gagging yourself
Gently scrape your tongue in one long stroke from back to front
Repeat this 10 times then rinse the scraper. Be sure to notice that you get the deeper crevices on the tongue as well.
Oil pulling is the ancient practice of mouthwash. It has extremely powerful benefits for both your mouth as well as the gut. Oil pulling helps cure tooth decay, improves bad breath, prevents cavities, removes stains, heals gums, and whites the teeth. It also removes oil-soluble toxins from the body healing inflammation and the immune system.
There are a few different oils you can use. The most common oil is sesame oil, however this has a very strong taste. If you are just starting to oil pull, you can use coconut oil which has a much milder flavor. Keep in mind that coconut oil is very cooling so if you are Vata and Kapha, this may not be ideal. Sesame oil works better for Vatas and Kaphas as it helps build digestive fire (agni). Oil pull before you brush your teeth in the mornings for 3-20 minutes.
How to Oil Pull:
Using 1 tablespoon of oil, place it in your mouth and swish around for however long you can. If you are just starting, we recommend starting for about 5 minutes then working your way up to 20 minutes if you can.
Spit the oil INTO THE TRASH. DO NOT swallow the oil because it is full of toxins and do not spit the oil into the sink because it will clog your drain.
Rinse with warm water
Brush your teeth and then follow with tongue scraping
The next step in your morning oral hygiene routine should be to drink something warm. An easy option for this is simply warm water. Warm tea is also a good option such as a good quality chai or an herbal tea, but focus on liquids that will hydrate you. Warm liquids absorb into the body much quicker than cold liquids do, so drink a large glass of warm water. This will cleanse out any remaining toxins that have built up in the intestines from sleep the night before. Think about when you take a shower, the warm water opens your pores and cleanses your skin. When you drink warm liquids in the morning, you are doing the same to the inside of your body. Starting this process in the morning will enhance your circulation and allow for better digestive strength for the rest of the day. Cold liquids cause the stomach to contract, making it harder for the body to digest a meal and cause bloating and gas after eating. Try drinking hot water with lemon in the morning before you have your breakfast.
These practices, on top of your usual brushing and flossing, will positively impact your oral health, give you a brighter and sparkling smile, and help your gut start the day on a better foot by allowing it to properly detox whatever was left from the day before. If you have any questions about any of these practices, we are here to help you! These small steps can be added to everyone's morning routine and only take a handful of extra minutes.