Somehow, despite the daily coffee intake and the occasional glass of red wine over my entire adult life, I managed to avoid teeth whitening treatments. Never put a tray in my mouth nor pasted those strips over my teeth. And hope I never have to go there. Why? I personally see it as an unnecessary expense and unnecessary exposure to some potentially harmful chemicals.
At the almost 50 stage in my life, I’ve managed to maintain all my teeth, not need a crown nor cap nor root canal and managed to prevent cavities for the past 15 years. Part of it is luck (no face or head trauma), but most of it is diet and dental hygiene. And when the time comes, I hope to leave this earth with my original (maybe not so pearly by then) whites. No dentures, no implants, no thanks!
Just like my slight obsession with hands, I’m very conscious about my teeth. I personally don’t think my smile is the brightest, but I prefer to maintain natural white teeth and not blind people with a glow in the dark smile. During the past few semi-annual checkups, I’ve held my breath waiting for my dentist to announce a positive finding on the exam. Then I let out a sigh of relief when he says “No cavities. No receding gums. You’re good to go.” Why? Because I figured over time stress alone catches up with you and, of course, the age factor.
I’ve mentioned before in previous blogs, your internal health ultimately is reflected in your external appearance. So, when it comes to your teeth, it’s a cosmetic issue and a structural issue. Thank goodness, technology in cosmetic dentistry is so advanced today so we have something to save us. I’d like to think of it as a last resort and invest in a self-care routine that addresses overall health, which includes your teeth!
All my recommendations for a healthy diet are dispersed throughout previous blogs, particularly the brain-gut series and I will continue to write more. But in this article, I thought I would share my own recipe for my dental routine. Note: This is not a recipe from scratch. I simply enhance a safe toothpaste to boost the health benefits of brushing.
Step ONE: Choose a clean base toothpaste which does NOT have any of these ingredients:
AVOID: fluoride, artificial colors and sweeteners, triclosan, propylene glycol, SLS (sodium, lauryl sulfate, carrageenan.
So, flip your current tube around and read through the ingredients carefully. I usually choose one with a mild mint flavor.
My absolute favourite is Auromere Fresh Mint. I have been using it for years and it has a beautiful blend of 23 herbs and spices, including clove oil. I recommend clove a lot for toothaches and have used it myself in the past for inflamed sinuses which sometimes triggers tooth pain after long haul flights. Another one I recently tried is Dr. Bronner’s All One Peppermint Toothpaste. (It does have calcium carbonate however, it is listed as the fourth ingredient).
Step TWO: Squeeze out your toothpaste into a small 2 oz glass jar.
Step THREE: Add the natural enhancers. Years ago, I attended an Ayurvedic Herbology Intensive at the Ayurvedic Institute in New Mexico and Dr. Vasant Lad suggested these two herbs which he states were “best for cavities and receding gums). So for the past several years, I have been “enhancing” my toothpaste with these.
In addition, I decided a little boost for whitening would be a good idea:
Activated Charcoal: ½ to ¾ tsp
You may have heard of Tulsi tea, the widely popular tea consumed to enhance energy, mental focus, calm the nerves and mitigate stress and conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and infections (including dental caries).
You can easily buy neem toothpaste, which is wonderful (then add the other ingredients), however, I like adding the herb itself in controllable quantities. In rural areas of India, people chew on the neem twigs or bark as a way of keeping their teeth clean (natural toothbrush). Neem chewing sticks are available as well. This herb has antibacterial properties and can reduce plaque buildup.
I add very little to my formula just for the natural whitening effect (to thwart the wrath of my coffee and black tea habit). It can reverse stains on your teeth and apparently, absorb harmful bacteria. Funny how the one ingredient for whitening transforms you paste into a black tar slurry. Note: the ADA warns it can do more harm to the enamel due to its abrasive nature, however they seem to disregard the antibacterial and anti-stain benefits. I choose this very fine powdered activated charcoal.
The taste? Not so bad! If you use a mint toothpaste you don’t seem to lose the mint taste unless you overdo it with the Ayurvedic herbs. Activated charcoal really doesn’t have a taste.
Today, bamboo toothbrushes are all the rage. Several manufacturers are capitalizing on the trend and producing some wonderful eco-conscious brushes. I personally don’t use them exclusively due to harvesting effect on world supply and from my research they are not. I have recently been using the Preserve toothbrush, made by a company based here in the United States which uses recycled yogurt cups. It’s sturdy with an ergonomically curved handle which reduces shoulder and wrist stress when brushing. Plus, this toothbrush is the result of the visionary, Eric Hudson who founded the Preserve and POPI (Preserve Ocean Plastic Initiative). These brushes are recyclable and accepted by the Gimme 5 program. You can find these bins in many Whole Food Market stores. He also has a Take Back Program where you can mail in your used brushes (in sets of 6) and other recyclables and receive an online store coupon. How wonderful is that? They even make kids toothbrushes! You can learn about his Gimme 5 program here.
AND THE FLOSS!
Please. Every day at least once! I floss at least twice/day. If your teeth are stubbornly tight together like mine, a natural, unwaxed floss may snap, leaving an uncomfortable remnant lodged between your teeth, leaving another flossing challenge. For now, I use the standard thin, waxed floss, which is available in most stores. If you are reading this and you have any suggestions on a strong, natural floss, please comment below. I would love to know!
You don’t need to go straight from the tube to the brush. Adding a few healthy touches to your paste can further protect your teeth and gums from decay and degeneration. Remember this is just part of the battle. Nurturing your internal health with proper nutrition and supplementation will still have a greater impact than any external regimen. This applies to not only teeth, but skin, hair and nails. If you have already lost some teeth, or you are battling with tooth decay or gingivitis, you can still slow or reverse its progression and save the teeth you still have. (Also, I do recommend reading my ebook “Go With Your Gut” to start working from the inside for better oral health.)
Please post a comment or question below and feel free to share this post. I would love to hear about your challenges or your natural routine for healthy, pearly whites!
“Peace begins with a smile.”
(My sidenote: “…even if you don’t have teeth!” 😉
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