Here is another response to a reader question! I am including a direct quote because it made me laugh:
A reader asked:
What about “gingivitis, bad breath and any other oral issue that doctors say flossing and brushing your teeth with their sugar toothpaste and flourish mouthwash will “prevent”?”
My reader is correct – there is your sugar in your toothpaste and that is a little ridiculous.
I will start with my story. I see my dentist every 6 months on the dot. I have been slowly implementing more natural oral health alternatives and then checking in with my dentist to see if my oral health is improving. I have been in and out of the dentist’s chair since I can remember. I think my total amount of crowns and fillings is in the upper teens or low twenties. I have become more dedicated in the past few years to taking better care of my teeth and preventing any further damage.
I have a few spots my dentist is keeping an eye on – they are not cavities that need a filling yet, but they could change. Since I cut a majority of sugar out of my diet, started brushing and flossing consistently, and switched some of my oral health care to more natural products, those spots have not gotten any worse. Yay!
Things I Don’t Do Anymore
I have quit using conventional toothpaste (which contains flouride, sugar/ artificial sweeteners, or other toxic ingredients). See my post here on making the switch to natural toothpaste and why I did it.
I do not use regular floss like Oral B or Glide anymore.
Read this article to find out why: http://groovygreenlivin.com/am-i-really-flossing-with-teflon/
I do not use conventional mouthwash (ACT, Listerine, etc) because I am avoiding flouride, SLS, sorbitol, saccharin, sucralose, and other questionable ingredients. Read this to discover what mouthwash ingredients to avoid and why they are toxic: http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/behind_the_label/269558/behind_the_label_listerine_teeth_and_gum_defence.html
Things I Do Now Instead
I do use natural toothpaste without any questionable ingredients or sweeteners:
*This is the brand I like the most. The spearmint is their only unsweetened option. Earthpaste uses xylitol in their other flavors as a sweetener, which I don’t prefer to use.
*When I switched to natural toothpaste, I immediately noticed my teeth felt and looked cleaner.
Essential Oil Blend
I add this healthy mouth essential oil blend to my toothpaste when I brush:
*I love this stuff SO much. When I started adding this to the natural toothpaste above, I noticed much less plaque collecting on and in between my teeth, even when I wasn’t the best at flossing + better breath.
*They have a nut free version if you’re allergic to nuts.
I do floss with this floss: https://cs151.infusionsoft.com/app/storeFront/showProductDetail?productId=38
*It works just as well as the floss I used to use, but without any exposure to teflon or petroleum based products. Read this very brief post on why natural floss is better: http://www.lowtoxlife.com/my-dental-floss-is-made-from-what
And, I have just recently started oil pulling with coconut oil and peppermint oil.
Read more about oil pulling here: http://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling/
*I haven’t been doing this long enough to offer much insight into my personal experience, but I have tried oil pulling for only 5 minutes when I wake up (before eating or brushing) and once I was done, it felt like I had brushed my teeth!
I use this oil pulling chew recipe and LOVE it: http://wellnessmama.com/25057/coconut-oil-pulling-chews/
I use this coconut oil: http://www.amazon.com/Nutiva-Organic-Virgin-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001EO5Q64
*Any coconut oil brand is fine, just make sure it is organic, unrefined, virgin, and cold pressed.
And I use this clinical grade peppermint oil: http://www.ameo.com/product/peppermint
*I love this company – if you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, contact me!
*If you’re using a different brand of EO’s, read this article to make sure they are high quality: http://www.livingwhole.org/does-the-perfect-essential-oil-company-really-exist-09-14-2014/
The Reasons Behind The Change
I have brushed my teeth with regular toothpaste (Crest, Colgate, whatever) my whole life. I have used mouthwash periodically, when recommended by the dentist. I have flossed with Glide floss. I was not careful with my diet or sugar intake for much of my life, which has had an effect on my oral health. I have seen the dentist regularly my whole life and my oral health has only declined. The ONLY time I ever went to the dentist and got a good report of no new cavities and no new fillings needed was after I cut sugar out of my diet. Since then, I have started changing the products I use and my oral health has either stayed the same or gotten better.
Side story: one side effect of the regular toothpaste I was using was that every time I brushed my teeth, I would lose my appetite. I spent YEARS brushing my teeth in the morning only to go downstairs and not be hungry for breakfast. I used to not be hungry for breakfast until 10am, sometimes even lunch time. I skipped breakfast for years because I wasn’t hungry but never connected it to my toothpaste. One day after quitting sugar, I realized I should look up the ingredients in my toothpaste. Sure enough, the brand I was using had sorbitol and saccharin in it, both artificial sweeteners. Not to mention the other questionable ingredients I found. As soon as I switched to the Earthpaste, I was hungry in the morning and could finally enjoy breakfast.
Our mouth is reflective of what’s going on in the rest of our body. It is impacted by the products it comes into contact with, our diet, and our stress level. Our mouth is a direct picture into the health of the rest of our body. So we have to go about oral care and hygiene from a few approaches including diet and oral health care products.
Gum disease is an epidemic. If you are over 30 years old, chances are better than 90% that you have some form of gum disease.
-David Kennedy, DDS & past president of International Association of Oral Medicine and Toxicology
If you want to get serious about your oral health, consider looking into natural oral hygiene alternatives yourself or try some of the products I mentioned above. I have only seen great results so far!
If you’re nervous about making changes without your dentist’s approval, you can always talk with them. Maybe yours will be different, but my dentist is not open to natural alternatives as far as I can tell. At my last appointment, I was told to start using a flouride mouthwash. But that is what they tell all their patients. So I am purposefully ignoring medical advice right now. I am hoping to find a holistic dentist in my area in the future. But for now I am experimenting with some natural alternatives and seeing what works. I am not a doctor and I do not provide medical advice. I am only sharing my personal experience so far.