You’re most likely aware of the importance of oral hygiene—dentists and parents alike have been urging us to brush and floss most of our lives. Despite this emphasis, though, most people are not aware of just how powerfully oral health can affect the health of the rest of the body.
Did you know that studies demonstrate a strong and startling connection between poor oral health and prevalent diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and more? It’s time to start taking our oral health even more seriously. As a reward, we’ll rediscover the power to prevent some of the most deadly and debilitating health conditions of our time.
Before we jump into a discussion of optimal oral healthcare practices, let’s take a look at why poor oral health leads to disease, as well as some of the major pitfalls to be avoided.
Poisons in the mouth
The mouth can be a very toxic place. It’s positively crawling with bacteria. Ideally, most of these bacteria are beneficial—just like those in the gut microbiome, they work to keep things in balance. And because the mouth is an opening through which toxins and harmful microbes can easily enter (a sort of vulnerability in the body’s fortress), beneficial bacteria are also necessary to help keep the bad stuff out.
Unfortunately, though, the odds are against us when it comes to fighting off harmful foreign agents—as we’ve mentioned in many past articles, we live in a toxic world. Junk food, toxins, and sub-par oral healthcare can lead to a proliferation of bad bacteria, which in turn cause bad breath, gingivitis, cavities, periodontal disease, and all the other familiar dental difficulties.
The problem doesn’t stop there, though. These bad bacteria can also easily pass through the mucus membranes in the mouth and migrate throughout the body, thereby increasing the risk of the serious illnesses mentioned above.
And to make matters worse, there’s evidence that conventional dentistry can do more harm than good. The systemic use of fluoride, mercury, and other well-known toxins only adds more poisons to the equation. Furthermore, overprescription of antibiotics by dentists can worsen oral health by killing beneficial bacteria.
You can protect yourself, though, even amidst all the toxins and misguided practices to which you’re exposed—it just takes a bit of thinking outside the box.
Holistic oral healthcare
Some aspects of holistic oral healthcare are just a matter of approaching conventional practices in a slightly different (and less toxic) way, and some aspects may be entirely new to you. Here’s how to get started.
Seek out non-toxic dental services. We’d all like to assume that the conventional medical services available to us are safe and vetted—but sadly, this just isn’t the case. As we mentioned above, despite mainstream insistence that there’s nothing wrong with dentistry, its practices are riddled with toxicity and risks.
Find a dentist whose practice is mercury-free and fluoride-free, who uses only biocompatible materials, and who thinks about the deeper implications of oral health. These practitioners are called Biological Dentists, so search for one near you using this terminology.
Tread carefully with root canals and tooth extractions. Volumes could be written (and have been) about the dangers of root canals. While many conventional dentists still deny the risks, an increasing body of evidence demonstrates that they are havens for harmful bacteria and can lead to a host of autoimmune disorders and other serious health issues. The Weston A. Price Foundation works tirelessly to present evidence-backed information about their risks.
Even tooth extractions (which are often the alternative to root canals suggested by biological dentists) must be undertaken with extreme caution. Always work with a dentist who understands the risk of bacterial proliferation and how it can affect the health of the entire body.
Use non-toxic toothpaste and mouth wash. Obviously, brushing your teeth (ideally twice a day) is a given—just make sure you’re not filling your mouth with toxins in the process. Conventional toothpastes contain a whole medley of allergens, irritants, inflammatory agents, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogens. In a past article, we covered which toothpaste brands to use so you can steer clear of these poisons.
Most store-bought mouth wash is similarly toxic—try 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide (diluted with 50% water) or warm water with sea salt instead.
Floss (ideally with a Waterpik). This is one practice about which conventional and holistic dentists agree. Once again, though, conventional floss products can get you in trouble: most floss is coated with endocrine-disrupting Teflon or other toxic plastics. Purchase natural floss instead (try tea tree oil floss, which will fight harmful oral bacteria without disturbing the balance of beneficial bacteria).
And better yet, try a Waterpik, which helps you floss with a concentrated jet of water—it’s been shown to be far more effective than regular flossing.
Try tongue scraping and oil pulling. Finally, take your oral detox to the next level with tongue scraping and oil pulling. These less common practices may seem a bit strange at first, but they’re gaining traction as essential oral healthcare habits.
Tongue scraping helps clear harmful bacteria from the tongue, reduces volatile sulfur compounds (which can lead to bad breath), and even helps stimulate digestion and taste bud sensitivity. Oil pulling (check out this article for a full run-down on how to get started) pulls toxins from the gums, kills pathogenic bacteria (thus allowing beneficial bacteria to flourish), and has even been shown to eliminate cavities and prevent periodontal disease.