This Holistic Dental Hygienist Shares Why A Healthy Mouth Is A Must For Overall Wellness (Plus 6 Tips To Promote Your Oral Health)
“We are what we eat” as the ol’ saying goes. But is that really true? Are we really what we eat?
No, we’re not.
Actually, we are what we absorb.
This may sound like a shock, but most people are not absorbing all of the minerals and vitamins they’re eating. If we’re not absorbing the vitamins from our foods, well then, that $16 organic kale salad topped with pastured chicken from Whole Foods was almost a complete waste.
As a dental hygienist of 10 years, I see patients daily that are showing signs they are not absorbing the minerals that they’re eating. How do I know this? When I look into their mouth, I see inflammation. Everywhere. And not just on their gums. The inflammation extends onto the inside of the cheeks, and the floor of the mouth. The mouth tissues all look red, irritated and just angry. Everywhere.
And when I see that they have had a past of chronic cavities, I know it’s another indication of a systemic issue of lack of minerals. Although genetics and oral habits play a big part in cavities and inflammation, when these issues are chronic, and present at all dental visits, it can also indicate a lack of minerals being utilized in the diet. Because of the Standard American Diet, which lacks many vitamins and minerals to begin with, the body does not have all the building blocks it needs to continue to function properly. An environment to absorb vitamins needs to be cultivated from within.
So what’s a chronic gingivitis gal got to do to get healthy gums and get back on the health wagon? Follow these simple six mineral promoting habits to get a healthy mouth, beyond just brushing and flossing.
Taking 5 deep breaths before eating your food can change your digestion process almost immediately. When you take a deep breathe and focus on the exhale, this puts your body and mind into a rest and digestion mode. This “mode” is also called the parasympathetic mode in the nervous system, and we want to be in this state while we eat. When you slow down to eat, your brain, taste buds and body communicate. The brain tells the digestive juices to get going, which will improve absorption of minerals. These important digestive juices help break food into small molecules that are better utilized by the body, and can help mineral uptake into the teeth.
Drink warm lemon water in the morning, before eating breakfast. This encourages detoxification early in the day, to ensure toxins are out and minerals are in. Apple cider vinegar can have similar results. Using lemon or apple cider vinegar will help the body create more hydrochloric acid. If you have current indigestion problems, drink lemon water or apple cider vinegar at least 30 minutes before eating a meal to increase digestive juices. Most alternative practitioners can assess if you are making sufficient hydrochloric acid to ensure better digestion.
PROBIOTICS + ENZYMES
Take a probiotic and/or digestive enzyme. We naturally have probiotics and enzymes already in our body, however, they’re constantly being killed when food is heated, and other preparations denature the enzymes. Probiotics and enzymes are not replenished nearly enough in our diets in most cases. These organisms need to be alive to do their job of breaking food down. Try eating more fermented foods like kimchi, or sauerkraut for a natural probiotic boost. Probiotics also live in our mouth so these good bacteria are important to keep in harmony throughout the mouth to prevent bad bacteria from causing problems with the teeth.
CLEAN UP YOUR DENTAL PRODUCTS
Try switching to a clean, nontoxic toothpaste. One that has few ingredients so that you avoid the foaming agents and preservatives. Check out my website to see recipes to make your own. No time to make your own? On my website I have a list of brands that I love and contain clean, mineral-rich ingredients for your teeth.
Add a variety of healthy fats to your diet – fat is cool again (finally). Fat affects each cell in our body because EVERY SINGLE cell is surrounded by a cell membrane. That membrane is made of fat. Remember back to high school biology learning about the phospholipid bilayer? That’s essentially just fat. Minerals need fat to transport through that membrane. This helps with mineral absorption, and fat makes food taste better too. Win-win! Try adding a flaxseed oil like this one to cold foods like smoothies, or just swallow two tablespoons for a quick fatty boost of omega 3’s. Use grass fed butter to cook at high heat, and use olive oil as a salad dressing instead of subjecting yourself to the “questionable oil” in most store-bought salad dressing. In his book, “Cure Tooth Decay”, the author Ramiel Nagel describes in great detail how to add mineral rich fats to your diet, and which ones are best. My favorite fat supplement is fermented cod fish liver oil.
ADD GREENS TO EVERYTHING
Think of leafy greens as nature’s multivitamin. It’s easy to add a handful of spinach or micro-sprouts to almost any dish. Scrambled eggs or scrambled hash in the mornings? Just add fresh greens on top. Making stew that evening? Add a handful of cilantro or chopped chives on top. Just add greens to everything.
Making these changes may seem small, but they add up to decrease overall inflammation in the body. Oral health requires balance all over the body and decreasing inflammation will aid in mineral absorption for healthier teeth and gums. More often than not, unfortunately, we’re not supporting our bodies with what it needs and it shows in our mouths – which I see first hand in the dental chair.
In order to avoid ending up with cavities, and needing more invasive treatments, we need to support the diet to balance the body and mouth. It’s not until we eat mineral-rich foods and create an environment that is able to absorb vitamins properly that we will see positive changes in the mouth.
For more information on the mouth-body connection and to contact Analee, visit her website at wholesomehygienist.com.