Optimal Oral Hygiene
ntimately tied to the respiratory system and whole-body health, the oral orifice is an often-overlooked contributor to immunity, inflammation, and microbial imbalances. With just three easy updates to your daily oral care routine, you can optimize your oral health and invest in your innate immunity.
Abandon the OTC oral care products, dental practices, and ingredients that are making our microbes mutate, mottling our teeth, and deforesting the flora of our oral ecology. Our mouths are a microbial menagerie, yet many of the periodontal procedures and medicants of modern dentistry disrupt the beneficial bacteria of our gums and mutate our mouth’s microbes.
This defoliation of our oral flora-nation has made extinct and mutated microbes, resulting in complex ecological shifts of resident microbiota, giving rise to gingivitis, halitosis, cavities, oral thrush, cankers, and bleeding and receding gums. Our mouth, once a moist microhabitat of homeostasis, becomes an oxygen-starved oasis of anaerobic activity eating away at our immunity and sending systemic disease throughout the body.
Stop using synthetic dental care products. Our gums and teeth are living tissue, and we want to approach cleaning them a little differently than we would scrub a countertop. If toothpaste is the magic cleaner for our teeth, then why are cavities at an all-time high, and why does toothpaste come with a big warning label: “May Be Harmful if Swallowed?"[i]
Most toothpastes and rinses, including many of the brands sold in health food stores, use chemical and synthetic ingredients that are more appropriate for industrial purposes than for cleaning the delicate tissue of the body or cultivating oral health. Brushing with these chemicals may be harmful to our health. Absorbing through the mouth’s mucous membrane into the bloodstream, these synthetic substances may lead to decomposing collagen, hinder hormones, damage the delicate epithelium, activate acne, disturb microflora in the digestive tract, inflame inflammation, and, in the end, encourage poor health.
2. Seal and Heal
Bleeding, inflamed, and receding gums are signifiers of oral disease and bacterial imbalance. Restore integrity to the oral epithelium by healing and sealing leaky gums and enabling the saliva’s ability to protect tooth enamel.
Dental plaque is a biofilm that can either entrap existing oral pathogens or provide a refuge for pathogens to hide from alkalinizing salivary flow. Plaque is an ideal nest for germs, and it also blocks the teeth from respiration and prevents the saliva and dentinal-lymph fluid (which I call the invisible toothbrush), from cleansing the teeth with a protective coating that keeps the teeth strong, white, and bright.
This DIY biotic dental paste is a bona fide beneficial to seal and heal all oral tissues.
PEPPY MINT PASTE
30 ml Coconut Oil
20 ml Baking Soda
20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
10 drops Spearmint Essential Oil
Liquefy the coconut oil in a jar in a warm bowl of water and add in the other ingredients. Mix ingredients together, pour into smaller jars, (a different jar for each person in the family), and pop in the fridge to solidify. Once solidified, it can be stored out of the fridge. Add a pearl sized drop to a dry toothbrush and brush gently.
With so many agents in our environs making our microbes extinct, we need to build our oral bacterial bank account and fund it with investments of diverse flora. A diverse, robust microbiome is a great, innate defense against pathogenic invaders.
Maintain an oral microbiome of bustling bacteria with prebiotics and probiotics, as they are microbe multipliers. Prebiotics feed and enhance the growth of probiotics. Chicory root, available as an easy-to-use powder, is a great prebiotic rich in oligosaccharides. Probiotics are supplemental living microbes that are beneficial when used in adequate numbers. Lactobacilli (specifically L. fermentum, L. plantarum, L. casei, L. reuteri, and L. rhamnosus) and Bifidobacterium all showed the ability to adhere to saliva, inhibit the proliferation of periodontal pathogens, and reduce cavity-causing bacteria and plaque.[ii]
Researchers are looking for modes of delivery that increase retention and exposure times of probiotics to the mouth using lozenges. Yet we don’t have to wait. Daily use in the diet along with probiotic swishing increases bacterial diversity in saliva, dentinal lymph, and the entire gastro-intestinal tract. Successful experiments at some dental practices have applied a mixture of probiotics after scaling and root planing called Guided Pocket Recolonization.[iii] This can be safely and simply carried out at home with a blunt-tipped syringe filled with probiotic powder and a carrier oil, like MCT. Try this super-easy swish at home:
ONE MINUTE MOUTH WASH
Pop a probiotic capsule in water with a pinch of an oral alkalinizer, such as baking soda or sea salt, and a drop of peppermint essential oil. Swish in a freshly cleaned mouth for one minute and then swallow.
Our bodies are brilliantly designed, and the mouth is the principal portal into our bodies. It interfaces, absorbs, and assimilates our world. When we repopulate our mouth’s microbiome and eliminate what hinders the innate functioning of our bodies, the condition of the mouth will evolve and the vigor of the body follows. By caring for our mouth and its microbiome, we understand that our health depends on a thriving microbiome; and as human hosts to this bacterial banquet, the key to vitality in our bodies and mouths is bacterial balance.
[i] Dig deeper into oral ecology, self-dentistry, and botanical oils for the mouth in my book Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums.
[ii] R. M. Karuppaiah, S. Shankar, S. K. Raj, K. Ramesh, R. Prakash, and M. Kruthika, “Evaluation of the Efficacy of Probiotics in Plaque Reduction and Gingival Health Maintenance among School Children—A Randomized Control Trial,” Journal of International Oral Health 5, no. 5 (2013): 33–37.
Nadine Artemis is author of Renegade Beauty: Reveal and Revive Your Natural Radiance and Holistic Dental Care: The Complete Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, a frequent commentator on health and beauty for media outlets, and her products have received rave reviews in the New York Times, the National Post, and the Hollywood Reporter. Described by Alanis Morissette as “a true-sense visionary,” Nadine has formulated a stunning collection of rare and special botanical compounds. Her healing creations, along with her concept of Renegade Beauty, encourages effortlessness and inspires people to rethink conventional notions of beauty and wellness.