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Archive for August, 2011

Here’s my dirty little secret…one of them, anyway…I’m addicted to coffee and cigarettes.  I know ~ horrible, right?  I justify my two vices by telling myself that I counterbalance it with all the healthy things I do, but my teeth reveal the truth.  Or, at least, they did.

It wasn’t just the stains, either, although those were bad enough.  After all these years, my gums had begun to recede and I was developing a serious case of gingivitis.

Of course, I wasn’t about to take the ‘normal’ route.  I don’t do fluoride.  I don’t do dentists.  I don’t do antibiotics.  That kind of limited my options, but I knew there had to be some natural alternative. I was getting desperate.  My teeth were becoming an embarrassment.   I had to do something… So, I started researching.  Turns out, I was right.

Let’s run through the most popular natural options ~ baking soda, strawberries, peroxide.  While I won’t say they don’t work, I will say they don’t work well.  Baking soda tastes pretty bad and it scratches the enamel of the teeth.  Strawberries work minimally well, providing you have enough strawberries and time.  Peroxide…yuck!

My advice?  Skip the ‘trendy’ and move on to something that really works.

Ever heard of ‘Oil Pulling’?  I hadn’t.  I’ll admit that I was skeptical, at first. My desperation outweighed my skepticism, though.  Here’s the theory behind it:

You gently pull oil through the teeth and move it around the mouth for 10-15 minutes, avoiding letting it reach the back of your throat.  You don’t gargle it or swish it.  When the proper oils are used, they will help pull toxins from the body, tones and tightens the gums, whitens the teeth and generally improves overall health. You don’t want to swallow this oil once you have pulled it through your teeth because it is then full of toxins.

How does it work?  Some oils ~ especially sesame oil~ are known for their ability to draw waste and toxins from the body.  The mouth is a direct line to the blood stream and the digestive system, capable of absorbing and releasing vitamins, minerals, waste and toxins.  When you pull the oil through the teeth and move it around the mouth, it mixes with saliva and activates the body functions that control the cleansing process.  As you move it between the teeth, it picks up the bits of food and bacteria that like to hide there.  The oils capture toxins and food particles, bacteria, germs and other nasties, allowing them to be eliminated from the system. It also deposits healing properties ~ vitamins and minerals, moisturizing and healing agents.

Okay, I know it sounds  a little hokey, but after working with many oils on a regular basis, I’m confident in their ability to do all the things they are reported to do.  And, knowing how the body works, I’m convinced that the mouth is a viable detox organ.  The confusion came when I was trying to decide which ingredients to add.

Some advocates of oil pulling insist that only sesame oil would work.  Some suggested olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil…the list went on.  Finally, I narrowed down my choices and here is what I came  up with…

Sesame oil was a must.  It is one of the few oils that I have seen work well for pulling toxins from the system.  I use it in many of my products because of this characteristic.  However, it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of whitening, which was one of my main concerns.

Coconut oil, which has been touted as a miracle cure for everything from heart disease to dry skin, seemed to be a good choice.  In my research I stumbled across another lesser-known use for coconut oil.  It helps whiten teeth by loosening plaque and actually descaling the surface of the teeth.

Sunflower oil is not an oil that I often use, but the more I study it, the more I like what it has to offer.  It is healing, soothing and seems quite capable of being able to draw toxins from the system.

So, I started mixing.  I considered adding herbs and essential oils that are known for their dental-health properties, but decided against it.  Those, I would save for my mouth wash and tooth polish.

It took me a few days to work up the nerve to actually use the oil pulling method.  I have this thing about texture.  I can’t do slimy, and I was a little bit afraid that the texture of the oils in my mouth would make me gag.  Again, desperation overrode hesitation.  I was pleasantly surprised!  It was thick at first, but not gross or slimy.  After the first few pulls, it became the texture of any other mouthwash. Now, I kind of like it!

But, the real question is: Does it work?

Well, I’m a believer!  I noticed a dramatic whitening effect within 3 uses.  The gingivitis was gone in less than a week.  That ugly brown plaque that accumulates on the back of the teeth and around the gums…it was almost gone after less than two weeks.  My gums have tightened back up and the receding gum line is doing a rapid reversal.  I think the most amazing thing, though, is that even my crowns, which they say can’t be bleached or whitened, are becoming whiter by the day!

The routine: Use the oil first thing in the morning, at least 30 minutes before you eat or drink anything.  I use it again at night before bed.  It took a few times to work up to using it for the full 10-15 minutes.  Don’t swallow the oil and keep it in the front of the mouth.  Spit, rinse and brush.  Its that simple.

After the first week, I began using a tooth polish that I whipped up.  I made it with coconut oil, cocoa butter, baking soda, peppermint oil and clove oil.  It tastes a bit like a Mounds candy bar, which is just fine with me.

I chose cocoa butter because of some interesting research that has been done on it.  It seems that cocoa butter has much to offer in the way of dental health.  It contains phenols, which  reduce the presence of free radicals that damage cells and prevent fat like substances in the blood stream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries.  It has immune-enhancing properties, and it lightly coats the teeth and helps fight off tooth decay by preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth and gums, helping to prevent the formation of plaque.

Clove oil, aside from its history as a pain reliever, is also anti-fungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and germicidal.  It has been used for a very long time to treat dental issues and has proven highly effective.  Besides, it tastes good.

Peppermint oil is a traditional flavor for tooth-care products, also, and its healing properties are backed up by loads of research from both the medical and the natural communities.  Sure, it tastes good, but there is more to it than that.  It stimulates blood flow to the gums, which helps heal damaged tissues, tones, and tightens the gums.  It contains a host of vitamins and minerals that benefit the teeth and bones, its a natural pain reliever and it freshens the breath.

Baking soda gently scrubs the teeth.  Unfortunately, it can also scratch the surface enamel of the teeth, allowing them to stain more easily.  I believe that the coating action of the cocoa butter provides a certain amount of protection from this, though.

The only downside to the tooth polish is the consistency.  I actually like the consistency, but if you are used to a thick, bubbly toothpaste, this will be a bit off-putting.  It is more liquid-y and it doesn’t bubble or foam.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t leave the mouth feeling oily, either, which was another fear I had.  The butters and oils soak in rapidly and leave your whole mouth feeling…well…clean!

I guess this isn’t for everyone, but if you are serious about finding a more natural approach to dental health and you are feeling adventurous, this routine just might be what you are looking for. I’m thrilled with the results and, for the first time in a long time, my teeth aren’t an embarrassment. Its wonderful to smile again without wondering how awful my teeth look!

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