By Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RNoral health and the development of diseases.
For example, one study demonstrated that people with dental problems were more likely to get heart disease.1 A more recent study even linked poor oral health to an increased risk of cancer and death.2
Fortunately, nature has given us the tools we need to keep our mouths in good shape.
Not only can natural ingredients help us keep our teeth clean and healthy, in certain instances, they can be gentler and more effective than the typical ingredients found in your “everyday” dental products.
Now, “going natural” doesn’t mean you should discard your toothbrush and toothpaste (we wouldn’t want that). Instead, what it means is this: You can improve your teeth by eating right and by switching to dental products that contain natural ingredients.
Now that we know that oral health can be improved naturally, let’s look at some tips on how to do just that.
Natural Ingredients for Good Oral HygieneThe foundation of oral health is brushing and flossing after every meal. So, let’s start there.
Here are some natural ingredients to look for when selecting a natural toothpaste:
- Tea tree oil kills cavity-causing bacteria.3 It also stops gums from bleeding.4
- CoQ10 can help heal inflamed gum tissue.5
- Xylitol (a natural sugar found in several fruits) may prevent cavities. According to one study, it was more effective in preventing cavities than fluoride.6
- Hydrogen peroxide blocks plaque development.7
Vitamins that Support Oral HealthApart from brushing and flossing, getting the right nutrition is extremely important. Just like the rest of your body, your teeth also rely on vitamins and minerals to stay strong and disease-free.
Calcium and phosphorus are essential building blocks of teeth. But our teeth also require nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
These vitamins protect gums from plaque build-up8 and inflammation,9,10 which could otherwise lead to tooth decay.
Foods That are Good for Your TeethWe tend to think that foods damage our teeth rather than preserve them. But some foods might actually protect your gums and teeth. Here are a few examples:
- Cranberries keep bacteria from sticking to your teeth.11 This is important because bacteria first need to stick to teeth before they can form plaque and cavities.
- Pomegranate eases gum inflammation12 and kills plaque causing bacteria.13
- Green tea prevents bacteria from eating their preferred food source, sugar,14 and blocks the growth of plaque-causing bacteria.15
- Results are mixed, but there is some research showing eating apples may reduce the amount of plaque on teeth.16
Healthy Alternatives to Store-Bought MouthwashesMouthwashes can also be a helpful addition to your mouth care routine. Often skipped during our nightly teeth-cleaning rituals, using a mouthwash can help to kill bad bacteria and soothe inflamed gums.
However, a number of store-bought mouthwashes are harsh and have even been linked to cancer.17
Want a mouthwash with safe and effective ingredients? Make your own at home. Key ingredients to use include chamomile, propolis, aloe, grapefruit seed extract, clove, peppermint, tea tree oil, green tea, and even cinnamon.
Below is a homemade mouthwash recipe courtesy of Breath MD18:
Recipe: Baking Soda Mouthwash:
- 1 cup of water
- 1 tsp of baking soda
- 4 drops of pure peppermint oil
- 4 drops of tea tree oil
- Mix ingredients
What You Need to KnowRemember — good health starts in your mouth. By taking care of your teeth, not only will you look better, but you could make a long-lasting impact on your overall health and prevent disease.
Practicing good oral hygiene and making appropriate dietary changes are the foundation to oral health. And you should always remember that the use of natural ingredients is a safe and effective way to protect your teeth.
- J Am Dent Assoc. 1997 May;128(5):554.
- BMJ Open. 2012 Jun 11;2(3).
- Schweiz Monatsschr Zahnmed. 2000;110(11):125-30.
- Aust Dent J. 2004 Jun;49(2):78-83.
- Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol. 1976 Aug;14(4):715-9.
- Am J Dent. 1995 Oct;8(5):231-5.
- J Clin Periodontol. 2001 Mar;28(3):270-6.
- J Periodontol. 1976 Nov;47(11):667-8.
- Proc Finn Dent Soc. 1993;89(1-2):51-9.
- Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;82(3):575-80.
- Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2012 Apr;23(2):160-7.
- J Clin Periodontol. 2005;32(Suppl 6):57-71.
- J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(2):79-92.
- Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1990 Mar;38(3):717-20.
- Int J Dent Hyg. 2011 May;9(2):110-6.
- Nahrung. 1986;30(9):907-12.
- Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Nov 15;166(10):1159-73.
- Available at: http://www.breathmd.com/homemade-mouthwash.php. Accessed August 23, 2012.
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