Get that million dollar smile: The natural wayDr. Surya Bhagwati
Ever wondered why our great grandparents had most of their teeth and good dental health despite their old age? While most of us connect this to lower chocolate and candy consumption back in the day, that’s not the only reason for their strong teeth and gums. To be fair, great dental health wasn’t guaranteed to all, but there’s no denying that dental disease and tooth decay wasn’t as pervasive in previous generations. So, aside from dietary factors, how did past generations maintain dental health without the widespread availability of modern oral hygiene products like toothpastes, mouthwashes, and dental floss?
While we can’t speak for everyone, Ayurveda did give us quite an advantage with its natural dental care solutions. Since ancient times, Indian populations have enjoyed access to Ayurvedic medicine for dental care – natural medical solutions that were unmatched anywhere else in the world. In fact, Ayurvedic physicians even devised innovative dental surgical procedures to treat a variety of conditions, with some of these techniques having inspired modern medical treatments today. Let’s take a closer look at some of these ancient solutions that can be adopted in home dental care practices to keep your ‘pearly whites’ white!
The Best Ayurvedic Dental Care Solutions
Herbal Chew Sticks
Prior to the invention of modern toothpaste in the 1800s and dental powders, which came even earlier, mankind depended on chewing sticks or twigs to clean their teeth. In Ayurveda, these chewing sticks are described as datum and they included twigs or products from very specific medicinal herbs. This practice doesn’t just help maintain oral hygiene through the brushing and abrasive action, but also because of the medicinal properties of herbs like neem and babool. Today, the practice is primarily used by aboriginal communities, but it is once again gaining acceptance and recognition, with some studies indicating that such traditional dental care practices could actually be more effective than brushing and flossing.
Tooth Cleaning Powders
Tooth cleaning powders were widely used just a generation or two ago, but they have been largely forgotten with the onslaught of trendy toothpastes. That’s unfortunate, because tooth cleaning powders can be extremely effective and offer similar benefits to chew sticks as they contain a variety of herbal ingredients. While toothpastes are helpful, Ayurvedic tooth powders may be more effective when it comes to fighting plaque buildup to keep your teeth white and protect against tooth decay. This is because tooth powders have a stronger abrasive action, in addition to which, they contain herbal extracts with antimicrobial properties that help fight plaque formation. As Ayurvedic tooth powders contain purely natural ingredients, they are also non-toxic and safer for children.
Tongue scrapers are often dismissed as useless because they are not a part of conventional dental care. However, they have long been used in ancient India, being an important part of the Ayurvedic tradition. They can be made from a variety of materials, including bamboo, steel, or copper. Copper tongue scrapers are regarded as the best choice because of the antibacterial properties of the metal. No matter the material, tongue scrapers can be effective at protecting against plaque formation, which is the main cause of yellowing of the teeth and decay. Tongue scrapers reduce buildup and bacterial infestation on the tongue surface, which is why studies find it to be one of the most effective practices for fighting problems like bad breath.
Oil pulling is another popular Ayurvedic dental care practice that uses natural herbal oils to fight plaque and yellowing of the teeth. The ancient practice is described in some of Ayurveda’s oldest texts, such as the Charaka Samhita. While it is extremely effective at restoring and protecting your teeth’s enamel, it also helps fight other oral diseases like gingivitis or gum disease, dental decay and tooth rot, and halitosis. Natural or herbal oils from sesame, sunflower, and coconut are most commonly used in the practice and are said to draw out toxins, reducing oral impurities and also activating beneficial enzymes. Although popular only with those well acquainted with Ayurveda, it has now come to be recognized as valuable for a wide range of health benefits.
Herbs for Dental Care
When choosing herbal oils, look for ingredients like tea tree oil, sesame oil, clove oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil. Coconut oil is noted for anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, with studies showing that oil pulling with coconut oil can reduce plaque formation and gingivitis. Similarly, tea tree oil has many proven therapeutic benefits, including antifungal properties that can help fight various oral infections. Clove oil is also renowned for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects and is even used as an analgesic in Ayurvedic medicine for tooth pain. Clove oil is in fact a common ingredient even in mainstream toothpastes and oral care products.
When it comes to dental cleaning powders or chewing sticks and other natural dental care products, the best ingredients to look for would include neem, babool, guggul, turmeric, pudinha or peppermint, and amla. Neem and babul twigs can be chewed on raw, but their extracts also possess anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects to help protect against tooth and gum disease. Turmeric is similarly effective at fighting pathogens known to cause plaque buildup on the teeth and it is also highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory effects. Amla is generally used as an immune booster, but when used in a triphala mouthwash blend it can also promote optimal dental health and lower the risk of gum and tooth disease.
Keep in mind that natural dental care products should be used consistently for any benefits. While they can protect your teeth from plaque and yellowing, their efficacy will be reduced if you indulge in other habits that are detrimental to oral hygiene, such as smoking, chewing tobacco, and so on.
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