Crushed shells and bones along with sticks, barks and leaves were the first human forays into oral hygiene that later gave way to the more modern toothpaste applications popularized in the 19th century. The significance of oral health is not to be overlooked; dental issues can cause—or be indicators of—other more serious health problems that lead to early death and a number of preventable diseases. But modern toothpaste is loaded with artificial ingredients, chemicals and fillers—even some of the natural versions—and the $12 billion global toothpaste industry sends hundreds of millions of bottles, caps and boxes to landfills each year, not to mention the excessive toll factory production of any kind takes on the planet. Opt instead for a lower-impact, more effective and easier way to boost your oral health than toothpaste and give your mouth something to really smile about.
By using minerals and botanicals readily available to us, humans can embrace the healing powers of nature and avoid the messy glop of industry. According to Nadine Artemis, founder of Living Libations, self-dentistry is easy and possibly even more effective than the tube-stuff anyway, so what's stopping you from having the healthiest, natural mouth? Try these four tips for a healthy mouth minus the toothpaste.
1. Start your homespun oral health care each day with a sea salt rinse in the morning and night. Salt is antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal. It removes dirt and grime that lead to odor.
2. Scraping the tongue is equally as important as brushing teeth. Bacteria and fungi can build-up on the tongue leading to bad breath. A tongue scraper can be purchased at most any health food store and can last for years or you can use a metal spoon.
3. Instead of toothpaste, use a combination of baking soda, salt and a few drops of essential oils such as cinnamon, tea tree, oregano, clove and thyme. Living Libations makes a powerful blend called Healthy Gums. Apply to a dry toothbrush along with a smidge of baking soda and salt and brush away from the gums in short strokes. Essential oils can be purchased at a natural food store, and always look for therapeutic grade.
4. Follow the brushing with floss; you can add a drop or two of essential oil to the floss as well to help protect the gum tooth line, and essential oils can be applied as needed to receding or damaged gums.
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Image: Anderson Mancini