Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body
Contributor: Saffron & Sage
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
Although we’ve all been taught to brush at least twice-a-day, commercial toothpastes often contain a myriad of ingredients that many of us don’t think about in the same way we would consider what’s in our food, cosmetics or household cleaners. But these ingredients are equally damaging to our health and the environment, especially when used to cleanse one of the body’s most absorbent locations.
Our mouths are the gateway to every system in the body, including our immune system and bloodstream. So while taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums ensures a bright, white smile that will give you a boost of confidence, a healthy mouth can promote overall health that leads to a long, healthy life as well.
Bolster Heart Health
Some research suggests that heart disease, stroke and endocarditis—an infection of the inner lining of the heart—can be avoided with proper oral care. Chronic inflammation, often a result of gum disease, has also been tied to heart disease.
As we age, the ability to remember everyday things can begin to deteriorate. Gingivitis, a condition that results in swollen, bleeding gums, has been linked to decreased verbal and mathematical recall in older adults.
Maintain Healthy Joints
Along with a balanced diet, good dental care reduces the risks of tooth decay and gum disease—two inflammatory conditions that have been linked to rheumatoid arthritis. Reducing inflammation can also reduce the risk of infection throughout the body.
Regulate Blood Sugar
For those with diabetes, the ability to fight infection is often difficult. Maintaining a healthy mouth can prevent infections and gum disease from developing, which can also help keep blood sugar levels stabilized.
Continue to practice good dental hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing and using an antibacterial mouth rinse. Unfortunately, not all dental products are created equal. Some may contain ingredients that, in the long run, may be damaging to tooth enamel.
Shopping for Healthy Oral Care Products
When looking for safe, effective toothpastes, avoid products containing triclosan, hydrated silica and sodium laurel sulfate (SLS). SLS is a foaming agent that doesn’t appear to provide any additional benefit and may increase the occurrence of canker sores and tooth sensitivity. Instead of buying big-name, over-the-counter products that may not list all their ingredients, try one of our favorites, Dr. Bronner’s—which you can find in our marketplace—or make your own using the DIY recipe below.
DIY Peppermint Toothpaste
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1/2 to 1 tsp of fine sea salt
- 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil (more or less, to taste)
- Filtered water
Mix together baking soda, salt and essential oil. Add water, little by little, stirring after each addition until the paste is the desired consistency.