Gentle toothbrushing for healthier gums

Gentle toothbrushing for healthier gums

Healthier gums need gentle brushing

In this video I demonstrate how to brush your teeth correctly so that you can clean the enamel thoroughly, without hurting your gums in the process.

Incorrect toothbrushing technique can contribute to receding gums, bleeding gums and even gum disease so brushing the right way does more than just clean your teeth, it protects your gums.

Choosing a toothbrush

Electric or manual, the most important quality is the softness of the bristles. Always choose the softest bristles you can find.

An electric toothbrush will exaggerate the risks of poor brushing technique so I recommend practicing correct brushing with a manual toothbrush before you start using an electric.

Electric brushes are especially valuable for people who have trouble keeping their wisdom or back molars clean.  They are also helpful for people who don’t have enough strength or stamina to brush thoroughly for 2-3 minutes at a time.

 

 

No white knuckles

Are you squeezing the toothbrush handle in a death grip? A tight, white knuckled grip at the base of the handle means you are probably brushing too hard!

Practice holding the brush lightly between your finger tips, near the bristles. This way you have more fine motor control. 

Don’t scrub

Gently polish each surface of each tooth individually with a gentle flicking motion, moving the bristles away from the gums.

One of the ways that gums are attached to the teeth is with microscopic fibres that can break really easily, so never push the tips of the bristles into the gum line.

To clean the enamel closest to the gums place the sides of the bristles against the gum line, so the tips of the bristles are touching the enamel. Then just wriggle the bristles in place. It will be easier to understand if you watch the video!

Take your time

If this is a new way of brushing for you, take as long as you need to retrain your muscle memory to the new grip and motions of gentle brushing. Even once you have the hang of it, toothbrushing thoroughly and gently should take you at least 2-3 minutes each time.

Rather than resenting and rushing through your oral hygiene every day, treat it as a mini moving meditation where you have a chance to lavish yourself with loving attention.

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Pleasurable eating: Foods that relieve tooth sensitivity

Pleasurable eating: Foods that relieve tooth sensitivity

Sensitive and tentative

I had just walked for two blissful hours along a beautiful coastline on a hot summer’s day and arrived at a beachside cafe famous for its homemade ice creams. Taking my time to select a scoop each of lemon sorbet and salted caramel, I carried my cone down to enjoy it on the warm sand.Licking the ice cream delicately, I tried to channel its sweetness along the centre of my tongue. But, inevitably an icy mouthful met my molars in a jolt of electric pain. Tears flooded my eyes as I winced and my shoulders tensed involuntarily, my happy mood spoiled.Despite special sensitive-teeth toothpaste, vigilant flossing and regular dental visits, food was an unreliable pleasure in those days. Hot soup, crunchy apples and honey on toast were all risky pleasures before I learned the secrets of holistic teeth health.

Feed your teeth

Then, five years ago I tried out a teeth healing diet in a desperate (and successful) attempt to avoid yet another root canal.  The same strategies which cured that root pain have made my teeth so strong and resilient that temperature sensitivity is now a thing of the past, along with cavities.

Nutrition is the key to hard, glassy tooth enamel because our teeth are alive and a healthy body constantly replenishes the enamel.  Nutrients flow from the digestive system, through vital organs producing hormones and proteins, to be delivered via the bloodstream into the roots of our teeth where they finally pulse outwards from the dentin to the enamel.

With the right nutrients flowing from the inside of the tooth to the surface, enamel remineralizes continuously. In healthy teeth, the sensitive nerves in the dentin are protected by a strong enamel shell which actively repels decay-forming bacteria.

Sensitivity caused by weak enamel and receding gums can be relieved by eating whole foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and D, vitamin C and minerals.  These nutrients contribute to teeth and gum health best when eaten as whole foods rather than isolated in supplements.

Foods to relieve tooth sensitivity

The teeth healing diet includes lots of animal protein in the form of grass-fed meat; organ meat especially liver; bone broth, raw dairy, and eggs along with fresh nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit. Although grains, beans, nuts and seeds, sugar and processed foods are mostly harmful for teeth, it is possible to relieve sensitivity just by adding the necessary nutrients without depriving yourself of foods you consider essential.

I found that regularly eating an abundance of the delicious food needed for teeth health gradually displaced my attachment to sweets and other teeth harming foods. (I avoid ice cream now, not because it’s cold, but because I have lost my sweet tooth!)

I’ve summarised the teeth healing diet that I follow into a short, user-friendly guide which you can download for free.

A few of the tastiest foods to relieve tooth sensitivity:

Grass Fed Butter

Your teeth love butter! It is rich in fat soluble Vitamin A which is essential for teeth healing, so feel free to slather it on vegetables and sourdough bread daily. In fact, full-fat dairy products in general are teeth healing. Try raw milk if you can get it, otherwise enjoy the creamy goodness of non-homogenised full-fat organic milk, double cream, yogurt and all kinds of cheese.

Pate

Chicken-liver pate is teeth healing dynamite! The combination of vitamin D-laden livers with the vitamin A in butter and cream makes this a treat to eat often.

Liver holds a special place in every traditional cuisine because it is essential for growth and health. Liver was often served to pregnant women and small children.

What was the traditional liver dish at your grandparent’s table? That’s the one you should be eating every week for your teeth.

Caviar

Caviar like all fish eggs,is packed with a powerful punch of teeth healing vitamin D, more by weight than most land animal eggs, meat or organs.

Indulge, celebrate, treat yourself to caviar, or look out for the more affordable fish roe sold in season at good fishmongers.  Its distinctive salty fishy taste is quite addictive and can be eaten as often as you want.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is liquid gold for teeth. Broth is enjoying stardom as a super food trend right now, for the same reason our grandmothers loved it.  Full of minerals, vitamins and collagen it is easy to digest and cheap to make.

Simmer leftover bones from meat, chicken or fish with a splash of vinegar to extract all the goodness. Drink it straight or use as a base for soup, risotto or sauces.  Up to 3 cups per day will see your teeth remineralising and sensitivity disappearing.

Originally published at Sixty and Me

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Is oil pulling putting you at risk?

Is oil pulling putting you at risk?

What is oil pulling?

Oil pulling is an effective way to clean your teeth and gums very thoroughly by swishing a spoonful of oil around your mouth so that it absorbs bacteria and toxins, then spitting it out. It’s an Ayurvedic practice for detoxification that can help you to have clearer skin as well as a cleaner mouth.

Oil pulling is very fashionable at the moment, because of increasingly high expectations for white teeth. As more people start to recognize the long-term risks and ineffectiveness of conventional teeth whitening (with bleach) they are looking for natural strategies. Along with other gentle teeth whitening products such as activated charcoal and turmeric, oil pulling is a relatively low-risk way to gradually and sustainably whiten teeth.

However, it may not be low-risk for everybody.

Oil pulling and fillings

Oil pulling is risky if you have amalgam fillings

Amalgam fillings are the metal fillings that look black after a few years in your mouth. They are made from a mixture of metals including mercury. Mercury is highly toxic and there is a risk that oil pulling can destabilize the mercury in amalgam fillings, to cause symptoms of mercury toxicity in your body.

There has been no definitive research to prove whether or not this is a real risk. (There has been almost no scientific research into any aspect of complementary or alternative oral health. It’s not where research funding goes.)

However, it is a theoretical risk. Given that oil pulling works because it draws out toxins present in the mouth and mercury is a toxin known to leach out of amalgam fillings as they age.  As a precautionary measure I stopped doing it because I do still have amalgam fillings. My amalgams are very old and and I want to keep them as stable as possible until I’m ready to have them removed.

Mercury is known to cause neurological and cardiovascular problems, collagen diseases, immune system problems and allergies. I have seen a number of clients with amalgam fillings who have tried oil pulling and have symptoms of mercury toxicity including autoimmune conditions, viral infections, chronic fatigue and allergies.

I strongly recommend that oil pulling should not be practiced if you have amalgam fillings in place.

If you choose to take the risk of increasing your exposure to mercury by oil pulling please educate yourself about the symptoms of mercury toxicity and stop immediately if you notice those symptoms.

Composite fillings

There is some anecdotal evidence that oil pulling may also destabilize composite or ceramic fillings (the ones that look white in your mouth) particularly if the fillings are very new and haven’t had time to bond properly with you teeth. It may be a sensible precaution to wait a few weeks or months after getting a new composite filling before you start oil pulling.

Oil pulling isn’t comfortable for everyone

Advocates of oil pulling sometimes talk about it as though it’s an essential part of every oral health habit. I often hear from people who feel pressured into oil pulling even though they find it unbearable.

For example, having a gag reflex that is very easily triggered can make oil pulling feel very uncomfortable. Some people find that keeping a quantity of oil in your mouth for an extended period time can feel nauseating.

There is absolutely no reason to force yourself to oil pull if you don’t like it, or don’t want to, or feel that its just not the right thing for you.

Oil pulling is wonderful when its the right thing to do, but it’s not essential to your oral health. There are many other things you can do to keep your mouth clean and healthy. And ultimately, diet plays a far more significant role in your oral health than any approach to hygiene.

So, now that you’ve assessed your level of risk and understand the role oil pulling can play in oral health, if it’s something you do really want to include in your regular oral health routine, here are a few tips for beginners.

Oil pulling tips for beginners

Start small and build up

If you are new to oil pulling start with a teaspoon or less of oil and swish for 2-3 minutes. Build up your tolerance gradually to find your ‘sweet spot’ which may, or may not, be the ‘tablespoon of oil for 20 minutes’ version that is commonly recommended.

Don’t tire out your tongue

Oil pulling involves swishing vigorously but don’t feel like you have to push the oil around with your tongue to get it inbetween your teeth. Keep your mouth moving continuously but gently. You will gradually build up more strength in those mouth muscles, but it’s just like at the gym where it’s counterproductive to try and lift the heaviest weights on your very first visit.

Spit safely

Never swallow oil after pulling. Spit it out into the trash or outside, but not down a drain. I have cleaned a shower drain clogged up by someone else’s oil and it is very unpleasant.

 

Optimize Your Oral Hygiene Habit e-book

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ritual that really helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

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What is the best toothpaste for you?

What is the best toothpaste for you?

‘What is the best toothpaste you recommend?’ is probably the most single most FAQ I’m asked. The truth is that there is no single best toothpaste I can recommend. Let me explain why.

All toothpastes are a compromise

Mainstream supermarket brands are full of toxic ingredients, some of which actually undermine teeth and gum health and many of which are associated with general health problems such as cancer (SLES), gastrointestinal inflammation (cargeenan) or Alzheimer’s (fluoride).

Alternative natural toothpastes are not only more expensive and harder to find but most also have ingredients that I consider compromised such as glycerin and Xylitol.

Here’s one of the very short videos in a series I’m making about different toothpaste ingredients. Glycerin in commonly found in both mainstream and ‘natural’ toothpastes. What’s it doing there and what’s it doing to your teeth?

 

 

Subscribe to the Holistic Tooth Fairy YouTube channel to learn about other toothpaste ingredients.

The best toothpaste for you?  Or for me?

There’s probably a perfect toothpaste for me, even though I haven’t come across it yet. But when I do, I still won’t offer a general recommendation, because the best toothpaste for me may not be the best toothpaste for you, and it certainly won’t be the best toothpaste for everyone.

Everyone’s needs and resilience to risk are different so there is no one size fits all solution. Different budgets, different tastes and different levels of access to small brands complicate the question even more.

Technique and timing matter more than toothpaste

Even the most perfect toothpaste is probably not going to solve all your teeth and gum problems.

When it comes to oral hygiene toothpaste is just one element, of a daily habit that should include a range of cleaning strategies. Check out this Better Brushing post for tips to improve your toothbrushing technique.

And of course, oral hygiene is itself is just one element in a holistic strategy for healing and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.  Diet, tension relief and a host of other holistic strategies all play a much greater role in your oral health than your choice of toothpaste.

Empowering choices

What I do recommend is variety. Buy the best toothpastes you can find and afford to avoid nasty toxins and don’t use the same thing every day. Changing your toothpaste often is particularly important if you are using a variety marketed as ‘whitening’ because it will include abrasive ingredients.

Having a choice of toothpastes (or tooth powders) available spreads the benefits and any risks associated with compromised ingredients so that you are not exposed twice a day, every day.

 

 

Optimize Your Oral Hygiene Habit e-book

Tailor your daily teeth cleaning routine into a FUN FRESH EFFECTIVE
ritual that really helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Usually priced $8AUD, get it FREE for a limited time!

Optimize Your Oral Hygiene Habit E-Book

I take your privacy seriously. No spam. See Privacy Policy

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How to brush your teeth better

How to brush your teeth better

Do you still brush your teeth the way you were taught in childhood?

You brush your teeth every day, but when is the last time you updated technique?

Do you know what kind of brushing your teeth and gums need? Certain medications, poor nutrition, too much stress or tension in the jaw, can all make teeth enamel or gum lines soft and vulnerable to being damaged by the wrong techniques.

Learn how to brush your teeth better, to help to maintain your teeth and gums in perfect health for the rest of your life.

Softer is better

Always choose the softest bristles for your toothbrush to avoid scratching or gouging the surface of your teeth. Firm and even medium bristles wear down soft enamel, making it more vulnerable to decay. A soft brush allows you to gently polish the surface of your teeth, leaving them so glassy that plaque can’t stick to them.

Rubbing your gums with hard bristles can break the delicate surface membranes, weakening their grip on your teeth and allowing bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream and potentially lead to inflammation in your gut, heart or lungs.

Hard bristles on an electric toothbrush can be even more damaging  than those on a regular manual brush. Speedy electric toothbrushes increase the impact of your toothbrushing technique, so it’s even more important to use soft bristled head and hold lightly against your teeth than with a manual toothbrush.

You always can soften your toothbrush even more by running the bristles under hot water before you start brushing.

Polish don’t scrub

Instead of scrubbing your teeth like you are cleaning a kitchen floor, imagine you are gently polishing antique silver plate. Ideally, you can brush so lightly that even after six months your toothbrush bristles will still look brand new!

Try to hold your toothbrush with the tips of your fingers very close to the toothbrush head (like a fancy lady sipping from her bone china teacup). With your fine-motor skills in play it is much easier to brush gently than if you are gripping the end of the brush in your fist. If it is difficult for you to hold a manual brush this way, try an electric toothbrush which you can grip while applying the lightest touch possible to your teeth.

When you are brushing your teeth, be sure to avoid brushing into the gum line. Brushing carelessly into your gums contributes to receding gums, gum pockets or abrasions that can lead to gum disease.  If you have receding or bleeding gums you really need to use soft, round-tipped bristles and brush very, very gently.

You can brush your gums, but this should be done separately with a dry, soft-bristled manual toothbrush. You can buy gum brushes or use a baby toothbrush which is small and soft. Always brush gums from the jaw towards the teeth, so with a downward motion on the top gums and upward on the bottom gums.

Brush your teeth early

Plaque begins to rebuild within 6 hours of brushing, so it is important to brush your teeth both morning and night. However, you should always wait for an hour after you eat before brushing, because your enamel is at its softest and most vulnerable from acids and sugars.

The best time to brush in the morning is as soon as you get up, to give your mouth a fresh start for the day. Then, when you start to eat and drink there is less harmful bacteria interacting with the breakfast food in your mouth.

In the evening, wait an hour or so after you’ve finished eating, but don’t wait until you are too tired to brush carefully. Brushing an hour or two before you are ready for bed allows you to brush with your full attention.

Slow down, you brush too fast

The most important toothbrushing tip I tell my holistic teeth health clients is to brush  your teeth slowly. You should spend at least two or three minutes brushing in total, brushing each tooth surface individually, and stroking away from the gum. If you are used to rushing through brushing, then it may feel very unnatural and boring to slow down.

One way to help yourself stay on task is to distract yourself. Watch TV, listen to music, the radio, a talking book or a podcast as you brush.

Another, even more effective, technique is to treat toothbrushing as a twice daily mindfulness practice. As you brush you can look in the mirror and think positive affirmations. Your teeth cleaning time is the best time to think loving thoughts towards your teeth and gums, and forgive yourself any imperfections.

Your teeth have been with you for a long time, you can keep them forever by adapting your routine to show them the love and care they need as they grow older with you.

Optimize Your Oral Hygiene Habit e-book

Tailor your daily teeth cleaning routine into a FUN FRESH EFFECTIVE
ritual that really helps to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Usually priced $8AUD, get it FREE for a limited time!

Optimize Your Oral Hygiene Habit E-Book

I take your privacy seriously. No spam. See Privacy Policy

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