According to yoga and ayurvedic philosophy, abiding by a healthy, daily routine (dincharya) and incorporating certain rituals are important if we are to live well and remain on the straight and narrow. This is the essence of the niyama tapas – which essentially means that we should always try to do our best (another interpretation of tapas is “burning enthusiasm”). In short, our dincharya means abiding by a realistic, self-care plan without being too attached or “rigid”. When it comes to oral hygiene, although you might brush your teeth a couple of times a day or after meals, it is also important to floss regularly and invest in a tongue scraper.
Gum problems and heart disease
Studies show that the incidence of heart disease is significantly increased by poor oral hygiene and that even brushing teeth twice a day as opposed to once will make a difference over time to heart health. In fact, it appears that one of the reasons people tended to die earlier in the past was because of chronic gum disease. Mouth abscesses under teeth that are not being treated can be life threatening because the high levels of toxins can lead to septicaemia. Certainly it’s not unusual that a sufferer has ended up in hospital in intensive care.
Believe it or not, flossing is something that is probably more important to do daily than brushing. Some avoid it because their teeth and gums are sensitive and it hurts or feels uncomfortable. It might even be that the gums bleed. However, avoiding it, will usually make the problem (generally related to gingivitis) worse. This is because as the food gets lodged between the teeth and begins to rot, the gum start to move away from the bacteria which leads to receding gums . Then the teeth feel even more more sensitive at the gum line and so it goes on. It is important to floss gently most days and although the gums may bleed a little at first, eventually, the problem should stop. If your gums continue to bleed profusely when you floss, it is important to see a dentist without delay.
Sounds a bit yucky, but the mouth is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria – warm and damp! When you wake up with morning breath and a furry tongue, this is due to mouth bacteria multiplying a little more profusely over-night while you are asleep. During the day this doesn’t happen as quickly due to saliva, eating and drinking etc. Tongue scrapers are a useful way to decrease the build up of unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. In ayurvedic science, how the tongue looks is used as a diagnostic tool for many ailments because it is believed to relate to the presence of ama – underlying toxins – in the body. Don’t be tempted to clean your tongue with your toothbrush though because this just massages all the yucky stuff back in and then on to your toothbrush, yuck! Best to purchase a proper, (and if possible) metal or stainless steel scraper. They can be found online if not at your local health food shop or chemist. Be sure to wash the scraper properly after each use!
The jury is out a little on the presence of fluoride in toothpaste. While tiny, trace elements of fluoride, topically applied, have been shown to be beneficial to tooth health, the reality is, it is added to our water, but yet, is often removed from childrens’ toothpastes because it is a dangerous poison if swallowed in larger amounts. It is unlikely that a child or an adult would swallow enough fluoride from toothpaste, or drink enough tap water for it to be a serious health issue, but, it does beg the question; Why does anything need to be added to water? Because fluoride is a by-product of aluminium, some believe that as a waste product, it has to be dumped somewhere and big companies will pay for this privilege. Lots of us have grown up with the idea that fluoride is a good thing for our teeth and so we don’t question why it has been added to our water supply. Many probably think that it’s a good thing. Some will further argue that in areas without it, kids seem to have more cavities, My personal feeling is that this needs to be investigated further. Children, particularly, consume way more sugar than is actually healthy and often without realising. For example, cows’ milk is full of sugar and young humans often drink loads of it. Many toddlers are soothed into sleep by going to bed with a bottle. Personally, I think that diet and poor oral hygiene is much more likely to be the culprit. And in fact, when it comes to health matters, I want to make my own decisions. Hence, I would prefer my family is able to drink pure, uncontaminated water without someone else having decided to add something for my own “good”.
Commercial mouth washes generally contain alcohol and can dry your mouth out which destroys flora and creates even more serious bad breath! It wasn’t that long ago that one of the famous commercial brands was linked to mouth cancer. Make your own by adding a drop or two of tea tree oil to a small glass of water. You can make a bigger amount up and keep in a bottle. Pour into a glass or small tumbler to use though.
Morning routine for mouth health
- Scrape your tongue first thing.
- Rinse and gargle with your homemade mouth wash
- Brush your teeth AFTER breakfast
- Gargle again.
- Brush your teeth (preferably with an electric toothbrush)
- Floss your teeth
- Rinse with plain water
- Brush again gently with a soft, non-electric toothbrush around the gum line.
- Scrape your tongue
- Rinse and gargle with your mouth wash