One oft-neglected regimen in our lives is our mouth and dental hygiene. We take our teeth, lips, saliva, etc. for granted until we have a problem. Then we run to the dentist. When was the last time you saw the dentist? Make an appointment today if it’s been a while since you got checked for possible dental problems. There are methods to make that visit to the dentist a pleasant experience. Let’s examine some ways to cultivate healthy dental habits from an Ayurvedic perspective.
Take a look at your toothbrush. How old is it? The American Dental Association recommends replacing it every 3-4 months. As part of the Ayurvedic daily routine, it’s important to brush your teeth first thing in the morning after you get up. Do not consume food or liquid before you brush! Lots of bacteria have built up in your mouth while you slept, so if you start eating or drinking before you brush, then you’re inviting those germs back into your body as well.
It’s beneficial to brush after meals as well, if possible. Make sure you brush before you go to bed. This is a way of removing the toxins that have accumulated during the day and it prevents them from circulating in your bloodstream while you sleep.
Get a metal tongue cleaner. The majority of toxins in your mouth accumulate on your tongue, so cleaning your tongue after you brush (and before you rinse out your mouth) is a great way to remove these contaminants. Do not use a plastic tongue cleaner; they’re usually formulated wrong (triangle-shaped). A stainless steel one is best for all 3 Ayurvedic doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) . Avoid using your toothbrush as it shaves the papillae (those pink bumps) on your tongue and cause redness. Hold the tongue cleaner by the corners and scrape your tongue from back to front. Rinse the tongue cleaner and repeat. Wash the tongue cleaner and rinse out your mouth.
In both Ayurveda and Oriental medicine, tongue analysis is used as a key diagnostic tool. It is part of the eight-fold examination process in Ayurveda. Each part of the tongue is connected to a certain bodily organ. Trained professionals use tongue diagnosis to examine where health concerns exist. White coating in a certain area, cracks, indentations, and discoloring are all indicators that some organ may not be functioning up to par. Scraping the tongue early in the morning also stimulates the bodily organs and assists with their optimal operation.
Concerned about bad breath? It originates from the tongue, so keeping the tongue clean will minimize bad breath. Chewing roasted cumin, sesame, coriander, and fennel seeds after a meal minimizes bad breath and aids in digestion.
- The dangers of fluoride and its links to illness are fairly well publicized. Examine your toothpaste and see if it contains fluoride. You may want to choose an Ayurvedic herbal toothpaste.
- Dentists say that regular flossing can help prevent lots of dental problems. Make that part of your regular routine; it can take a minute and save lots of money down the road in dental bills.
- The science of oil pulling has been shown to improve the health of your teeth and gums. Take a little oil and swish it in your mouth after brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue.
- Do you have mercury fillings in your teeth? Their hazards have also been documented. Ask about getting them removed, one at time or all at once, as your budget allows. Ayurveda has methods to remove mercury toxicity from the body.
- A good source of calcium is chewing white sesame seeds. A mixture of sesame seeds and raisins are an excellent source of calcium and iron and make a tasty snack!
- Dry lips? Try putting some ghee on them (ideally the homemade kind made with organic butter).
- Have your massage therapist massage your jaw and neck to relieve tension that’s held there.
If your mouth is happy and healthy, then you’ll really have something to smile about! And so will your dentist. Learn more about how to cultivate healthy dental habits and optimize your health via an Ayurvedic consultation.