Many people underestimate how much of an impact oral health has on overall wellness. Though it’s nice to have a shiny smile, taking care of your teeth and gums comes with more than cosmetic benefits. Working to keep your mouth healthy could help you prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, both of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts link to poor oral health.
Of course, the best way to keep your mouth healthy is to brush and floss your teeth and visit a dentist regularly. These simple measures can keep your teeth looking and feeling good. However, if you want to go above and beyond, you might consider adding even more healthy behaviors into your routine.
There are many natural ways to clean, strengthen and polish your teeth — these steps are simple and safe, and contribute positively to overall health as well. Here are six natural things you can do to promote oral health between dentist visits.
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- Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is one of the best things you can do for your oral health. For one thing, water can help wash away food particles left in your teeth, which keeps them from feeding harmful bacteria and causing cavities. Water also dilutes the acids these bacteria produce, which protects your teeth from enamel decay.
Furthermore, staying hydrated ensures that your body produces the saliva it needs to heal your teeth. Saliva is the body’s first line of defense against cavities. Like water, saliva helps clean the mouth. However, it also helps strengthen the teeth by distributing new calcium, fluoride, and phosphate across the teeth to replace lost minerals.
- Avoid Sugary Foods
When the bacteria in your mouth encounter and process sugar, they create acids. These acids can break down tooth enamel and eventually lead to cavities. If you don’t want a toothache, it’s a good idea to avoid eating sugary foods. This might not seem revolutionary. However, it can make a significant impact on oral health. In particular, you want to avoid foods that will leave sugars lingering in the mouth after you’ve finished eating.
Gummy candies, dried fruit, starchy potato chips, and fruit juices are all examples of foods that can leave sugar on and between your teeth. When you do eat these sorts of foods, make sure to rinse your mouth with water and floss to eliminate the sugar that can lead to tooth decay.
- Eat Foods with Calcium and Vitamin D
Avoiding foods that are bad for your oral health is essential. In addition, it is important to eat foods that actually strengthen your teeth. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D are particularly positive for your teeth. Calcium helps keep teeth strong, prevents tooth decay and protects tooth enamel. Vitamin D, though not directly related to tooth strength, helps your body absorb calcium.
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Calcium can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, tofu, and other legumes. Sesame seeds, almonds, figs, and spirulina are high in absorbable calcium and should be included in your daily diet.
Dairy products such as milk and cheese contain both calcium and vitamin D, so they make strong snack choices. You can also find calcium in seaweeds and vitamin D in foods such as fish, eggs, and shrimp.
- Try Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is a traditional oral health remedy from India. Oil pulling has become increasingly more popular as more and more people research and learn the benefits of this ancient technique of quality oral health.
Though more research is needed to determine whether coconut oil pulling can promote oral health effectively, studies have found it’s an acceptable substitute for store-bought mouthwash. Oil pulling reportedly pulls bacteria, heavy metals, and pollutants from your body that can then be removed by disposing of the oil from your mouth.
If you’re interested in trying oil pulling for yourself, you’ll need coconut oil and some patience. People usually recommend swishing with one tablespoon of oil for 15 to 20 minutes on an empty stomach. Make sure not to swallow the oil. Instead, you should spit it out and rinse your mouth with water before brushing your teeth as normal.
- Chew on Crunchy Vegetables and Fruits
If you’re hoping to whiten your teeth, crunchy fruits and veggies could provide a welcome alternative to store-bought whitening kits. Crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and apples can help clean plaque and stains from the surface of your teeth.
Berries are rich in anthocyanins which help in the prevention of colonization of pathogens that encourage bacterial growth. Cranberries are especially effective in combating bacteria that leads to plaque and tooth decay due to compounds that disrupt enzymes associated with tooth decay. Just be sure to rinse your mouth out with water after eating any fruits and vegetables.
- Establish Healthy Habits
Most people know that alcohol use can affect the body negatively in the short and long term. Likewise, many people know that smoking has been linked to oral cancer. Keeping your mouth and teeth healthy starts with establishing healthy eating and lifestyle habits. This means avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption when possible.
Healthy lifestyle habits include regular exercise, practicing self-care and meditation, and taking time to laugh and enjoy life. Take walks in nature, read inspirational books, and keep a positive attitude to keep your immune system strong.
Keep Your Teeth Naturally Healthy
Good oral hygiene is an essential part of living a healthy life. Whether you want to whiten your smile or prevent cavities, changes to your dental routine can help. Though these natural strategies should never replace normal brushing and flossing, they can help boost your oral health without much extra effort. Simply drinking plenty of water and eating healthy gives your body the resources it needs to protect your teeth from damage.
Additionally, many of these natural tips can help you improve your overall health as well. Avoid excess sugar and eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals, regularly cleanse your body to boost your metabolism, and take supplements that help to support cellular health.
If you’re looking for more ways to support your teeth and mouth, try incorporating these healthy tips into your daily routine.
Kate is a health and wellness journalist. She enjoys topics focused on holistic health and all-natural living. If you enjoy her work, you can visit her blog, So Well, So Woman.