How to keep your teeth clean and bright and your breath smelling sweet? Regular brushing and flossing are essential, of course, but there’s even more you can do. Whether you’re stuck in a situation where you have no toothbrush nearby or you’re coping with a crisis of ache or infection until you can get to the dentist, here are 11 non-toxic, natural tooth and mouth care tips.
Drinking plenty of water is an inexpensive, readily available way to rinse your mouth. Water removes leftover particles of food and stimulates saliva production. Skip the lemon though, as its acidic nature will help cause cavities. Sports drinks, “enriched” with both acid and sugar, are even more dangerous. Can’t give up flavored water? Add zest to plain H2O with a drop or two of citrus oil, which does much less damage.
- Herbal, red, white, or green tea is also a good after-dinner palate-cleansing drink. Green tea, with its polyphenol compounds, tends to be especially effective at the inhibition of bacterial growth. Black tea offers a mixed bag of effects – while it will curtail plaque development, it tends to stain the teeth.
- Remember that old chestnut about chomping on crunchy fruits and veggies if you can’t get to your toothbrush? This does help remove food debris and keep the saliva flowing. Just be sure, though, that the produce you reach for has been cut into bite-size chunks (to avoid cracking your pearly whites), won’t get stuck between your teeth, and is relatively low in acid.
- Although a high acid content in foods and beverages can wear away your tooth enamel, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) tablets which are swallowed will help prevent gingivitis (gum disease) and edentulism (tooth loss).
- To sweeten your breath, chew on a cinnamon stick for its bacteria-busting essential oil (helpful, too, for anyone who’s trying to quit smoking or nail biting – two habits that are harmful to your teeth) or a few sprigs of parsley, for its chlorophyll content.
- Suck on a whole clove as an inexpensive, easily available measure to lessen the pain of a toothache. Of course, this must be followed up with an emergency dentist visit ASAP.
- Aloe vera gel is also reputed to be healthy for the gums and may be applied in small quantities if you have an inflammation. Be warned, though … natural aloe gel is extremely bitter tasting.
- Unscented olive oil soap can be used as a non-toxic way to clean the teeth.
- Newly back in fashion, oil pulling– that is, swishing the mouth with a teaspoonful of unrefined vegetable oil such as olive or coconut for 20 minutes – stems from an ancient Ayurvedic practice. This method of cleansing is said to benefit oral and dental health in numerous ways – whitening the teeth, lessening sensitivity, alleviating bad breath, and reducing the mouth’s bacterial content. Just be sure to spit the used oil into the garbage, not down the sink or toilet. Otherwise, you might end up needing a plumber to clear your drain.
- Chewing gum sweetened with inositol (an inert sugar-like substance) does not promote tooth decay like sugary gums do. In fact, it has the opposite effect – it actually destroys oral bacteria.
- Last but not least: Treat your hard-working teeth with the healthy respect which they deserve. Trying to open that last pistachio nut with your teeth is just not worth it. I know … believe me, I know.