"Good oral health is not only about healthy teeth and gums; it supports your overall health and wellness."
Today's talk with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD is all about oral health. Poor oral health can have serious negative effects on overall health — maybe more than you realize. Dr. Nancy will share some all-natural dental health recommendations, and go over how the wrong daily dental regimen may actually be making your oral health worse.
- 3:45: Introduction
- 4:33: Oral Health Facts
- 17:07: Health benefits associated with having healthy teeth and gums
- 19:03: What to do to improve oral health
- 19:13: Switch immediately to an all natural toothpaste
- 20:41: Effective brushing with water and proper technique
- 22:17: Making your own natural toothpaste using natural ingredients
- 24:48: Tongue Scraping
- 29:27: Oil Pulling
- 32:06: Does Oil pulling really work
- 34:47: Worst foods and drinks for oral health
- 39:14: Foods to Eat
- 43:30: Wrap Up
Ninety-five percent of Americans regard oral health as a critical part of their overall health. However, despite a clear understanding of the importance of oral health, only about 75% of American brush their teeth at least twice a day, and less than 65% floss on a daily basis. This means we believe in the good oral health in theory, but many of us struggle in practice.
Oral Health Facts
- The U.S., South Korea, Canada, Denmark, and the UK are the top five countries in terms of best teeth.
- India has more dentists than any other country in the world.
- The biggest dental problems for people over the age of 50 are tooth decay, dry mouth, oral cancer, tooth crowding and gum disease.
- Bad teeth may hinder procuring a job 28% of the time.
- According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should brush your teeth two times per day.
- The ADA also recommends using a soft bristle toothbrush for your teeth, because your teeth and your gums are very sensitive.
- You should replace your toothbrush every three months, or sooner if you are sick or if the bristles are worn or frayed.
- 78% of Americans will have at least one cavity by the age of 18.
- 80% of Americans are currently dealing with some form of gum disease. This is one of the most common and prevalent issues with oral health.
- According to the ADA, 61% of people in the US admit to using their finger nails to remove food stuck between their teeth. 40% admit to using cards or folded pieces of paper. 21% of people admit to using hair, safety pins, cutlery, and forks to floss.
It is really important to take some time and think about your teeth. Your teeth are the window to your health and it’s time to change your dental health routine if you are having a lot of mouth issues. Regular brushing and flossing are the first and most obvious ways to avoid gum disease and tooth decay naturally. If you aren’t already brushing and flossing on a daily basis, it’s never too late to start. While sound dental health is super important, it’s not the only reason to take care of your teeth.
Health benefits associated with having healthy teeth and gums
Caring for your teeth and keeping your mouth healthy is going to reduce the risk of various negative effects on the body. These include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, kidney problems and even some forms of cancer.
Bacteria from your mouth can make its way into the bloodstream almost immediately and actually increase the chances of developing the health conditions mentioned above. Taking care of your teeth and practicing really good oral health is very important to your overall health and wellbeing. Brush your teeth two times each day, for two minutes each time. Make sure to floss every day with actual floss or a water pick and clean your teeth with real dental tools.
Tips to improve oral health
Switch immediately to an all natural toothpaste
The commercial toothpastes we use today are loaded with chemicals, and actually destroy essential healthy bacteria the mouth needs to protect against the bad bacteria that causes gum disease and tooth decay. Take a look at the ingredients in commercial toothpastes and you will see things like sodium lauryl sulfate for the foaming action that we see in toothpastes, a brace of particles like silica and calcium carbonate or chalk, which is used due to its grittiness to slightly polish the teeth. You can accomplish the same things and polish your teeth with activated charcoal, which is absolutely 100% toxin-free and safe to use. You can also use baking soda if you need a little bit of scrubby action.
Artificial sweeteners are also found in commercial toothpastes, as well as tartar control agents which can burn mouths that are sensitive to higher pH, and triclosan, which is reported to fight against oral infections but is also suspected of being an endocrine disruptor and a possible carcinogen. We don’t want that.
Practice good brushing technique
Brushing with water and proper technique is more effective in removing plaque, tartar, and bacteria than actual toothpaste. If you’re not ready to quit toothpaste altogether but do want to switch to a natural chemical-free toothpaste, then you can pick Schmidt's, Tom’s of Maine, Hello, or you can actually just make your own. Natural toothpaste is becoming more and more popular, especially ones with essential oils, and for good reason. Your gums absorb whatever nutrients you put into your mouth. Make sure you read the ingredients on the back of the label. Just because it says “natural” doesn’t really means it is chemical-free.
The fact that your gums absorb whatever ingredients you put in your mouth means both the good things and the bad things, like inflammatory chemicals and toxins, are directly absorbed into your bloodstream and delivered all the way into your body, cells, tissues, and organs. This contributes to a whole host of health problems triggered by the inflammation resulting from this process. Understanding this just makes switching to a natural healthy toothpaste a smart move.
Make your own natural toothpaste
Make your own toothpaste by using natural ingredients such as coconut oil, baking soda, sea salt, and essential oils such as peppermint, wild orange, or lemon. Simply combine 1/2 cup of coconut oil, 2 or 3 tbsp of baking soda, 10 drops of essential oils and mix it all together. Wait until it takes a liquid form. Pour that content into a small Mason jar, and voila!
Store this way from sunlight. You can dip your toothbrush into water then dip into the all natural toothpaste you’ve just made, then dip into the activated charcoal, and brush your teeth. This has this whitening effect to it that’s very effective and nontoxic. The activated charcoal helps to leach out any of the toxins that are hiding in the nooks and crannies of your teeth. This is super easy and very economical to do on your own.
Using natural toothpaste is very important but it’s not the only step to reducing bad bacteria in your mouth and supporting your overall health and wellness. You can also use a tongue scraper. If you have not taken a look at your tongue, especially first thing in the morning, then you’re missing out on a lot. If your eyes are the windows of your soul, your tongue and your mouth are the windows to your health.
Get close to a mirror, stick your tongue out, and take a look. If it’s not pretty, and you’ve got white stuff coming out of it, or yellow patches, then you should start tongue scraping. A healthy looking tongue should be pink and covered with small little nodules called papillae. Any deviation from your tongue’s normal appearance, including a red or inflamed appearance, or a smooth texture, bumps, or soreness may be an indication of an illness, infection, inflammation, a deficiency, or other health issue. This is cause for concern.
One of the more common issues people notice is that their tongue is constantly covered in a white film. This is a sign of an abundance of undesirable bacteria in your gut, or internal yeast in your body. While you can scrape this off, you may want to also consider taking a quality probiotic in order to correct the bacterial imbalance and control your internal yeast. Smarter Nutrition's Smarter Gut Health is a shelf-stable, hearty soil-based probiotic that is great for this. Probiotics are the good bacteria in your belly, that help to digest and absorb the food you’re eating.
Tongue Scraping removes food and debris, dead cells, and accompanying bad bacteria from your mouth. What you want to do is scrape that off and just prevent it from setting up shop and camping there for a while. Halitosis is a result of all the bad bacteria living in your tongue. You can easily find a tongue scraper online or at your local dental store. Once a day, when you wake up or right before you go to bed, just stick out your tongue and just scrape it down and forward while applying a little bit of pressure as if you’re scraping food off of a plate. Wash it under the faucet, make sure you get all the food particles and gunk off of the device, and then rinse.
Practice Oil pulling
You can use coconut or sesame seed oil for this. You swish the oil around in your mouth and the agents in the oil will pull the bacteria from all the nooks and crannies in your teeth, your gums, on your tongue, and inside your mouth.
To practice oil pulling, put roughly a teaspoon of oil — sesame or coconut oil — in your mouth, and swish it around before you brush your teeth, without gargling the oil, or swallowing it. Swish for about 20 minutes. After that, spit it in the garbage (not your sink, because after a while the oil can start to build up and clog your sink). You definitely don’t want to swallow this oil either, as this will return all the bacteria back into your mouth. You can also add a drop or two of essential oils while doing this.
Does Oil pulling really work?
Oil pulling does seem to work and can be very effective to support your oral and overall health. There are approximately 700 types of bacteria that can live in your mouth and up to 350 of them can be found in your mouth at any given time. Several of these types of bacteria are harmful, and can contribute to problems like tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. Oil pulling can be very effective in reducing and then removing a large portion of these harmful bacteria. In fact, after just a week of oil pulling, the number of harmful bacteria found in the saliva and in the plaque is significantly reduced. Oil pulling can also reduce bad breath, and prevents cavities. It reduces inflammation, and improves gum health.
Gingivitis is a type of gum disease marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. It is a form of inflammation, and it’s caused by bacteria found in plaque. Oil pulling is reportedly an effective remedy to prevent the inflammation and improve your gum health. It works primarily by decreasing the harmful bacteria and plaque in the mouth that contributes to inflammation. Pulling with inflammation-fighting oil such as coconut oil not only removes and neutralizes harmful bacteria, it provides protection against the harmful effects of inflammation, not only for gum disease but also for your entire body.
Worst foods and drinks for oral health
Acidic foods and acidic drinks — These are the ultimate culprit for tooth erosion is acid, and not necessarily just sugar. Foods that contain the highest amount of acids include: fruit juice, citrus fruits, snack foods and drinks like soda, candy, coffee, carbonated water, and carbonated beverages.
These will promote growth of the acid-building bacteria in your mouth. This makes your mouth super acidic which is the perfect environment for tooth erosion. If you do eat something acidic, don’t brush immediately afterward. If you brush immediately after you eat something acidic, then it can actually do more harm than good. Wait about 20 to 30 minutes, until your mouth is neutralized. If you do choose to eat something acidic, eat it in one sitting and then swish with tap water right after, and brush your teeth half an hour later. Only brush with soft bristle toothbrushes, and replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner. You can also drink through a straw and that may help, but the best option is to stay away from acidic foods as much as possible.
Foods to Eat
Like so many other health issues, oral and dental health is also dependent on the foods that we eat. In fact, several studies clearly show that certain foods, especially those high in sugar, encourage cavities while others are essential to your health. This second category of foods reduces inflammation and provides minerals designed to strengthen teeth and gums.
- Dr. Nancy recommends mineral-rich foods, especially those that are high in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The cells in your teeth use the minerals that you feed your body to regenerate when they have been affected by food acids and even cavities. Mineral-rich foods include: organic vegetables like broccoli, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, apples and dried fruits, apricots, lean, organic grass-fed protein, avocados, and bone broth, which is especially rich in essential minerals your teeth need to rebuild and remain healthy.
- Foods rich in fat soluble vitamins — vitamins A, E, K, and D. These can be found in coconut oil, avocado, dark leafy greens, salmon, olives, walnuts, chia seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and spinach.
- Anything containing refined or processed sugar contributes to inflammation and is broken down into acids that eat away at your teeth, causing the cavities. Avoid refined processed sugars at all costs. Natural sugars are better but they still need to be limited, and you still need to brush or at least rinse your mouth out with tap water after every meal.
We all know how important brushing and flossing are for our oral and dental health. However, surveys consistently demonstrate that a large portion of us don’t brush often enough or for long enough. We should be brushing twice per day, for at least two minutes each time. Not taking care of your teeth or your oral health is going to lead to cavities, bad breath, and other oral health issues. It also leads to inflammation, and we know we don’t want that.
Inflammation in your mouth can cause gingivitis as well as other health issues in our bodies like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, muscle and joint pain, kidney issues, and even some forms of cancer. Most of these health conditions can come as a result of harmful bacteria and inflammation.
Top recommendations include switching to an all-natural toothpaste or making your own natural toothpaste with ingredients you probably already have in your house. Pay attention to your tongue health and use a tongue scraper every day. If you notice excess white film, increase your probiotics to achieve a better balance of the good and bad bacteria, especially the internal yeast. You can also try oil pulling with coconut oil or sesame seed oil, and be sure to swap out your toothbrush every three months (or sooner if you’ve been sick). Use a soft, bristled toothbrush.
Last but not least, make sure you’re eating foods that will help you with better oral and dental health. These include foods that are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, as well as foods that are rich in fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, E, and K. Stay away from refined sugars and other acidic drinks as much as possible.
Remember, good oral health is not only about healthy teeth and gums; it supports your overall health and wellness. So pay some extra-close attention to your oral health, starting today.