When we hear buzzwords like “holistic” and “natural” in regards to health, it’s important to understand the legitimacy and science behind homeopathy. Involving these kinds of topics into conversation in regards to mouth health can lead to a lot of confusion and poor practices, so it’s crucial to learn more about what is legitimate and what is pseudoscience.
Holistic oral health could really be seen as “whole-istic” more than anything else. It means that we need to be mindful and aware of what is going on with our gums and teeth because they exist in unison with our entire body. That means the wellness of our mouths are directly connected to the health of other regions of our body like gut health and cardiovascular strength. As we look into what holistic mouth health is comprised of, we will focus on things like diet and prevention to maintain balance in the body. Seeing mouth health as just one facet of overall bodily health is the key to being a “whole-istically” healthy person.
Many people who go to the dentist regularly still do not know a lot about teeth, gums, and how cavities are formed in the mouth. Though they may be passively taking care of their teeth, they don’t necessarily think too much about it. Educating ourselves on how our mouths work is pretty interesting stuff! You don’t have to enroll in dentistry classes to learn about the basics.
How many teeth, on average, are in the human mouth? How are cavities formed? How do root canals work? What do implants look like? What happens when you pull a tooth? What is the role of fluoride?
The more questions we come up with, the more we begin to wonder just how mentally connected we are with our oral health. Thankfully, with the help of the internet, this information is readily available, and in completely digestible and easy-to-read format for our curiosity to be satiated. If you’re not much of a reader, hop on YouTube and check out some videos that explain just how the mouth works, with focus on tooth care. You may notice that the more you learn about your teeth, the more you will begin to be mindful of the way you take care of them, which can only lead to good things!
Once we acquaint ourselves with the interworkings of our mouths, we start to become more mindful of what we put in them! The reality is the mouth is very much the main pathway of how things are introduced to our bodies, whether we are ingesting them intentionally (food), or not (germs). The main take-away here is that we can’t view the mouth as something that exists separate from the rest of the body.
As you begin to become more aware of mouth health, it’s inevitable that you will start to realize that no amount of miles run or weights lifted can make up for poor oral care. The body’s microbiome starts at the mouth and is home to 80% of the immune system. Therefore, everything that goes into our mouths has a direct impact on the rest of our bodies. This means that being mindful of the connection between oral health and other diseases that could negatively impact the body can be the difference between living a long life or struggling with diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, MS, and Alzheimer’s.
It’s entirely up to you whether or not to use holistic oral care products, but holistic oral care isn’t just about what you use to clean your mouth. It’s also about the other ways in which you can keep your mouth healthy byways of prevention. There are several steps you can take to reduce overall inflammation in the body, and many are connected to the pathway of the mouth.
- Quit smoking: You’ve probably heard it so many times already, but smoking is truly horrible for your teeth and gums. Consider taking an important step to overall health by quitting this habit. Smoking introduces harsh, toxic chemicals into your mouth and bloodstream. It can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infection, most of which can start in the mouth, especially for those who use chew.
- Cut down drinking: Although modern culture revolves heavily around social drinking, a lot of this behavior quickly turns into binge drinking disorder. Some people turn to alcohol to deal with their mental health issues, as well. Regardless of the reason, heavy drinking can be horrible for your body, and especially your teeth. Scientifically speaking, alcohol is a poison. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice glass of wine, but heavy drinking is never safe for anyone.
- Eat Better: “What goes in the mouth stays in the mouth” is an old myth. Even if you put something in your mouth and don’t ingest it, the exposure still exists through the absorption starting on the tongue. Now imagine what a bad diet can do. Eating chemical-laden and too many unnatural foods can do a number on your gut and your mouth, including your teeth! Eating and drinking things that are highly acidic can erode your tooth enamel, so it’s important to choose foods that promote a balanced pH in your mouth to prevent decay.
Navigating the holistic world can be confusing, especially because make marketers are now using the concept as a way to sell products. Make sure to educate yourself on what it really means to maintain holistic mouth health. It won’t always come in a box or tube, and it’s not a kind of magic pill that will resolve health issues. We need to become more mindful, as a society, about how important it is to take care of our teeth outside of just going to the dentist for a cleaning once a year (you should actually be going twice a year). Speak with your dentist to find out other ways to take better care of your teeth using every day, natural methods.