Taking care of your teeth does more than keep them whiter. It keeps the rest of you healthy. It even prevents heart disease.
As more research comes out, it becomes clear that the bacteria in your mouth can make a serious impact on the rest of your body. The secret to keeping a healthy heart may be a clean mouth.
But brushing and flossing may not cut it.
And if you’re using regular store-bought toothpaste and oral hygiene products, it’s really not enough. In fact, these products can be harmful. Most oral care products come with shady ingredients—like fluoride.
The oral hygiene industry makes $35 billion a year because most people are convinced that fluoride is a must-have ingredient.
Fluoride supposedly makes teeth stronger and brightens your smile. Yet it shows no benefit on oral care after age eight. There’s even evidence linking fluoride to lower IQ and reproductive harm. Call us crazy, but we don’t think a tube of toothpaste should have to mention contacting poison control anywhere on its label.
Using natural brands of toothpaste, skipping the fluoride, and flossing every day is a good start. But if you want to create the healthiest, brightest smile you can, here are 5 tricks you’ll never learn from your dentist.
1. Activated charcoal:
We all want white teeth. But bleaching your teeth is dangerous and expensive. Instead, use activated charcoal. It sounds crazy. This is the stuff that filters water and is even a poison remedy in emergency rooms.
But it’s also a little-known teeth-whitener. It pulls toxins and teeth-staining tannins from your mouth. And, more important, it may also prevent these toxins from making their way to your heart. Don’t use regular charcoal. Buy the activated kind that comes in capsules. Open one up and pour the contents onto a damp toothbrush. Brush your teeth and let it sit for a few minutes. Yes, your teeth will turn very, very black. No, it’s not permanent. Rinse thoroughly when you’re done.
2. Coconut oil:
This one’s pretty weird too. But it works. Coconut oil has some pretty miraculous health benefits. It also happens to be antimicrobial, which is great for treating minor wounds and skin conditions. This translates to your mouth, too. Using coconut oil in place of a conventional mouthwash is called “oil-pulling,” a process that kills bacteria naturally. It can kill Streptococcus and Candida, which cause tooth decay, inflammation, and secondary infections in the body. These are some nasty bugs that you don’t want in your mouth—or your heart. Swish a tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil around in your mouth for about 15 minutes to see the benefits for yourself. Don’t swallow the oil when you’re done.
3. Vitamin D3:
You know that the sunshine vitamin fortifies your bones and keeps your hormones in balance. But it also helps to prevent tooth decay. A review of 24 clinical trials between 1920 and 1989 shows that getting enough vitamin D3 lowers risk of tooth decay by 50 percent. The studies include over 3,000 children in six different countries. Though its effectiveness has been a subject of debate among dentists, the data doesn’t lie. Foods like wild-caught salmon, eggs, and mushrooms are excellent sources of this vitamin.
Probiotics can work wonders for your dental hygiene. They give good bacteria the tools they need to kill off the harmful kind. You want to stop harmful bacteria in their tracks before they can make their way to your heart. These good bacteria are especially effective at killing Streptococcus, which is responsible for cavities. They’re just as useful for fighting off bad breath and plaque. Supplementing with probiotics helps keep your gut and your mouth healthy. If you need some extra help, oral probiotic rinses are available too.
You may already know xylitol as a safe, natural alternative to sugar. But it doesn’t just satisfy your sweet tooth—it actually protects it. Using xylitol in place of sugar in foods and drinks will prevent Streptococcus and other nasty germs from surviving in your mouth. You can also sprinkle it right on your toothbrush. This will lead to better breath and less plaque. But even better? It may also help prevent heart disease by keeping bacteria under control. Make sure that you get xylitol that is made from birch bark and not GMO corn.
Following these 5 steps may not make your trips to the dentist any more enjoyable… But it will make them less frequent. They’ll also keep your teeth strong and white while keeping you away from fluoride.
Most important, they may help reduce your risk for heart disease. A cleaner mouth may be the first step towards a healthier heart.