Do you know how many health issues can be traced back to a problem in the mouth? I remember when I was pregnant. One awful memory I have is the fact that I suffered from excess saliva (also called ptyalism or sialorrhea) during all three of my pregnancies (the entire time!!!)
In order to get through each day I would go through an enormous amount of gum and sugary candies to prevent myself from feeling sick. So, if I wasn’t eating or drinking something I had candy or gum to keep me going. By the time of my third pregnancy my teeth had literally taken a beating.
But, perhaps my teeth didn’t suffer too much because saliva not only lubricates your mouth and produces enzymes that aid in digestion, it also contains proteins with antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that help protect your teeth and mouth. Seeing I had excess that could have been a good thing, despite the sugary beat downs.
Hey, did you also know that there are many conditions that link back to oral health?
Here are just some:
Heart disease – Numerous research studies have shown a connection between heart disease and key bacteria in periodontal disease.
Diabetes – Approximately 95 percent of Americans who have diabetes also have periodontal disease and research shows that people with periodontal disease have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar level. Severe periodontal disease also can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Low birth weight and premature births – Periodontal disease also has been linked to premature, low birth weight babies. Studies have found that expectant mothers with periodontal disease are up to seven times more likely to deliver premature, low birth weight babies.
Oral Cancer – One of the most serious diseases found in the mouth is oral cancer. The oral cancer screening constitutes one of the most important components of a routine dental hygiene and dental exam. Approximately 80 percent of American adults have some form of periodontal disease and the majority of them do not realize they have it, because in its early stages, it is usually painless.
Lung disease – A new study published in the Journal of Periodontology suggests that periodontal disease may increase the risk for respiratory infections, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia.
Stroke – According to research published in the medical journal Stroke, periodontal disease (more widely known as gum disease) and its treatment are predicting factors for someone’s chance of having a stroke.
So, what does having good oral health mean anyway?
Oral health includes clean teeth AND healthy gums and their supporting tissues, the palate, the lining of the mouth and throat, the tongue, the lips, the salivary glands, the chewing muscles, the nerves, and the bones of the upper and lower jaws. Whew, that’s alot! And because the list is so extensive many people don’t focus on everything which can lead to neglect somewhere in the mouth.
How to achieve good oral health naturally at home
Luckily, good oral health can be achieved without too much inconvenience if done on a preventative, and not treatment, basis. You can practice these techniques at home – in between your regular dental visits.
1. Vitamin D and calcium
Both calcium and vitamin D play important roles in maintaining healthy teeth and strong bones. Without vitamin D, we cannot absorb calcium. Vitamin D produces proteins called cathelicidin and defensins that have antibacterial effects to fight bacteria that cause cavities. Calcium rich foods include tofu, sesame seeds, yogurt, spinach, and cheese. Besides sunlight, you can get vitamin D from salmon, sardines, tuna, milk, eggs, and cod liver oil. If you don’t consume any of these foods then supplementation is the next best thing.
2. Tongue cleaning
There are billions of bacteria living on your tongue. Getting those bacteria off your tongue will keep your breath fresh. Tongue cleaning reduces the amount of bacteria on the tongue. It is recommended that tongue cleaning in addition to tooth brushing should be performed for promoting oral health.
3. Toothpaste and mouthwash
The verdict is still out (at least for me) on whether fluoride is good or not. And I’m not a fan of many of the mouthwashes on the store shelves. I have used both fluoride and non-fluoride containing toothpaste. I use Earthpaste, which is made out of bentonite clay and does not contain fluoride or Dr. Bronner’s, which is made out of coconut oil, coconut flour, and peppermint oil (and is also fluoride free). I also started using Ora Wellness as a mouthwash and sometimes I place a few drops on my toothbrush on top of the toothpaste and brush with it. For you do-it-yourselfers, you can also make your own clay toothpaste and mouthwash.
4. Oil pulling
Oil pulling is a cleansing technique that consists simply of swishing a vegetable based oil (coconut, sesame or olive) in the mouth for 20 minutes and then spitting it out and rinsing well. It whitens teeth and improve your overall dental health including an ability to fight gum disease. You can easily follow step-by-step directions in order to start this practice. I have started doing it daily and I can tell it makes a difference.
Probiotics, or good bacteria, not only help keep us well and our gut healthy, research also suggests a potentially beneficial application of probiotics for the prevention of cavities. In one particular study, patients with periodontal disease who used chewing gum or lozenges containing probiotics saw their periodontal status improve.
Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and at the gumline, where periodontal disease often begins. It also removes any food from between your teeth that may have gotten stuck there while chewing. It’s not rocket science, but there is a right and wrong way to floss so you should learning the proper way to do this will prevent a bad experience.
7. Limit sugary foods and beverages
In case you haven’t heard by now, sugary foods and beverages increase your chance of forming cavities. Limit sugary foods and beverages, decrease your chance of forming cavities. Simply put, right?
8. Brushing your teeth
This should be the most obvious one for good oral health, but there may be some people out there that don’t do it for whatever reasons. None of the above things are going to do any good if you don’t have proper brushing technique. In order to ensure your teeth and gums are clean you must not only brush – you have to do it properly.
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