Natural Oral Hygiene Care

When I moved from New England to the Southwest (not exactly willingly, but because my husband’s job brought us here), I began having a lot of dizziness and equilibrium issues. It’s a long story, but years later I discovered it was caused by severe environmental allergies aggravated by wheat. During said time I would get so dizzy I literally couldn’t walk straight. Obviously this meant I couldn’t drive, which wasn’t good because I was in college and working. 

I ended up relying heavily on decongestants (clearly I hadn’t found my holistic side yet) and ended up, for the first time in my life, facing numerous cavities due to the overall drying effect of decongestants. This was actually brought to my attention by my own dentist, who is anything but holistic, so even traditional medicine recognizes this terrible side effect.

Fast forward a few years later, after cultivating a healthy and ingrained fear of the dentist, I no longer use decongestants or traditional toothpaste yet haven’t suffered a cavity in years. I have no bleeding when I floss. No swollen or receding gums. (I actually reversed this with an herb and I’ll tell you how in a moment.) My teeth aren’t yellow as corn, nor do I have breath like an alcoholic who went on a two week bender. I use natural alternatives, and they are probably products you already have in your house.

Tea Tree Oil
First off, let me say I don’tconsume essential oils. This is a new trend, and I find it disturbing. By nature, essential oils draw out the more caustic aspects of an herb. This means it can be hard on your system if taken internally, especially your liver. The effects are accumulative, meaning you won’t see potential problems until further down the road. Everyone needs to make their own decision about this, but I can tell you from my own research and from herbalists I’ve worked with that essential oils should not be taken internally, no matter the grade or what the manufacturer is telling you.

BUT brushing or flossing with tea tree followed by a good rinse and spit makes for healthy gums. I’ve done this for years without issue, so I’m willing to stand behind that.

Prickly Ash Bark Powder
Used by Native Americans, this stuff is the shi….It’s awesome. During said dental struggles, I was told I had gum pocketing that was irreversible and unusual for my age. This was when I was a newbie to natural medicine, so I went to my local health food store and studied some products on the shelf. I selected a powder that contained prickly ash bark (that I later learned was stellar for gums) and guess what happened six months later? No pocketing! That’s right, the gums I was told would never heal had healed per my dentist. I now brush with this daily in a homemade blend of herbs that I will share with you in a moment.

Word of caution: avoid when pregnant, on blood thinners, or have GI inflammation.

Peppermint Powder
There’s a reason toothpaste is peppermint flavored, and that’s because it makes your mouth worthy of kissing. But peppermint (and other plants in the mint family) also help prevent gingivitis. So I brush with this daily as well. Conversely, you could use peppermint essential oil as well. Just make sure to rinse and spit!

Oil Pulling
This is a method, not an herb. You can find more extensive information on oil pulling here and here. But basically it is an ancient Ayurvedic method for drawing toxics from the mouth by gently swishing a tablespoon of oil (I use coconut) around your mouth for up to twenty minutes. Even five minutes is better than nothing, and you don’t need to swish like you’re in a mouthwash commercial. Just gently push the oil through your teeth and around your mouth periodically. I’m doing mine right now, and as you can see there’s no oil on this blog post, so ralphing has been avoided. I personally do this twice a week, although I’ve seen recommendations as often as daily. It’s supposed to whiten your teeth as well, but I like to use…

Activated Charcoal
This is not the stuff you use in your barbeque, so please don’t run out to your garage. I use this brand. Activated charcoal is burned plant material, usually coconut fiber. It’s a great toxic binder, meaning it actually binds to toxins and helps the body eliminate them without having to process them. It’s used in traditional medicine for overdoses and toxic ingestions (Ahhhh how I don’t miss my vet tech days where I had to force feed this to numerous animals. Fun, messy times.)

One capsule easily gets me through three whitenings, so a bottle will go a long way. Some people brush this onto their teeth, but I find that makes a mess I just don’t care to tango with. I dump the contents of a capsule into a spare contact lens case (don’t you always have about 93 of these things laying around?). Then I wet my finger, dunk it into the charcoal, and wipe it onto my front teeth. I leave it on for about three minutes, trying to smile the whole time because otherwise it gets into the creases of your lips. Inevitably my best friend gets a strange looking selfie during this waiting period. I firmly believe it is integral to the whitening effect.

When the timer dings I swish with warm water (I find this helps rinse it better) and carefully aim for the drain when spitting. After, I brush with warm water to help remove the more stubborn bits of charcoal. Admittedly this can get messy, but just be careful and keep some tissues around for clean-up.

And learn from my mistake!!! Charcoal stains. Don’t use your best hand towels to wipe down the sink.

Tooth Powder
During an episode of The Office, Jim makes a joke about Dwight brushing his teeth with clay. Dwight, at some point, possibly in another episode, says he brushes with tooth powder. This is supposed to reinforce his role as the weirdo backwoods character, but instead it made me realize how I’m slowly transforming into Dwight. And while I will never own a beet farm (yuck!) or sport his stylin’ haircut, I’m okay with becoming a little extra woodsy because I know I’m taking care of my body. 

If you want to purchase tooth powder, I used to use this brand. But if you want to make it and save some cash, here's my formula.

Equal parts prickly ash bark powder and peppermint powder

Easy peasey, right? Some people like using baking soda, but I’m concerned it may be too abrasive. I’m quite possibly overthinking this, but either way I use the straight herbs. If you’re not used to tree-hugging dental methods and currently use toothpaste, powder takes some time to get used to. Some people find it totally unpalatable. This is why, if you’re a person who is picky about mouth texture, I recommend starting with tea tree or peppermint oil and moving on to the powder. Or stick with the oil if that’s what you prefer. Everyone is different, and everyone’s approach is different. 

BUT, the chemicals in traditional toothpaste are horrible, including foaming agents, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and fluoride, which until the late 50’s was used to treat overactive thyroid. This isn’t something I learned from a holistic book. This is something I was taught as part of veterinary medicine!!! This was actually prescribed to slow a hyperactive thyroid before other chemical treatments were created. Now it’s in everything from your toothpaste, to the food we eat, to the water we drink. Think about what this does to a healthy thyroid while I get off my soap box…

There are countless approaches to natural dental health, but these are the handful I use. If you’re looking for more information, here is agreat article about treating and preventing cavities naturally.

What natural alternatives do you use to brush your chompers? I’d love to hear from you!

NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use. By using this site, you agreed you have read the full DISCLAIMER
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