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I think dental pain is one of the worst kinds of pain you can experience. Whether it’s from cavities or sensitive teeth, when your teeth hurt you’re just plain miserable. Our health insurance doesn’t cover dental, so I’m not even sure how long it’s been since I’ve seen a dentist. I’m thinking 8+ years? Gasp!
I’ve had sensitive teeth most of my life, but have never so much as needed a cavity filled. Overall I am fortunate that my teeth are in pretty good shape. But a couple of years ago I started to experience pain in one my upper molars. At first I thought it was sensitivity, as it mostly bothered me when I would eat anything too chewy or too sweet. But it gradually got worse, to the point that I couldn’t chew on that side of my mouth and even needed to protect the tooth when drinking water.
If you are a regular reader, you know by now that I love to research any health problems we encounter and I prefer to care for myself and my family as naturally as possible. So I would like to share with you what I have found and maybe it will help you avoid costly dental care.
I am not a doctor and this article is presented for information purposes only.
The Foundation of Dental Health
In order to have healthy teeth, they must be nourished. Cavities are caused by a number of factors, including bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria loves sugar, so limit sugary foods and drinks to minimize bacteria in your mouth. Eat calcium-rich foods to strengthen teeth and enamel. If you don’t put the right nutrients in, it can weaken your teeth.
Good dental hygiene is also important to the health of your teeth. Flossing removes particles of food between your teeth that can lead to cavities. Brushing well cleans the surface of your teeth and gums, removing plaque. (If you have eaten something acidic, such as orange juice, wait at least 15 minutes before brushing. Otherwise you can actually damage your enamel.) A good mouthwash can rinse away particles that were missed. It is important to stick to this routine daily. I follow it twice a day, in the morning and right before bed. Preventing cavities is much easier than repairing them.
What’s in Commercial Dental Care Products?
Flouride has been added to our water supply and tooth care products since the 1960s. There is much controversy over how safe this practice is. I won’t go into too many of the details here, but recent research shows that flouride could increase the risk of bone fractures later in life, is associated with a moderate cancer risk, could contribute to hypothyroidism, and other health concerns. So I choose to use products without flouride.
A common ingredient in many toothpastes is glycerin. Why is this a problem? Glycerin coats your teeth and prevents them from remineralizing. Even most natural toothpastes contain glycerin.
What about mouthwash? Many commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can actually dry out mouth tissue and irritate sores in the mouth. They also often contain chemicals, dyes, or artificial sweeteners. Several contain acidic stabilizing agents so they will last longer on the shelf. Acid will eat away your enamel over time. Some people skip brushing and just use mouthwash, which does not clean thoroughly enough.
With so many potentially harmful ingredients in the toothpastes and mouthwashes out there, what can you do? Read the ingredients carefully. Try to find products that are all natural. Or better yet, make your own. It’s not hard to do and I include recipes for both mouthwash and toothpaste you can make yourself. They actually cost less than store bought, too. The best part of making your own is that you know exactly what’s going in the finished product and in your body.
My Dental Care Routine
Many people have stopped using toothpaste and mouthwash altogether and switched to oil pulling. It’s been around for thousands of years. Simply swirl a tablespoon of coconut, olive or sesame oil around your mouth for anywhere from 5-20 minutes. When you’re finished, spit it out and rinse. I didn’t care for oil pulling on its own because my mouth never felt completely clean. But I do like to start with oil pulling and then continue with flossing and brushing.
Another interesting topic that I found in my research is remineralizing. This is a process that many dentists previously thought was impossible, but new research shows it IS possible. Basically, with the right nutrition and hygiene, your teeth can restore themselves. Read this article for more details.
To make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients, I eat as healthy as possible. (That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the occasional unhealthy snack, but I limit how much I consume.) I also take a calcium and magnesium supplement to aid in remineralizing. A word of caution: too much calcium can cause other health problems, so do your research and use with care.
My dental hygiene routine (say that three times fast) begins with flossing. I’ve always had a hard time with floss, so I prefer floss picks. They make it easier for me to reach my back teeth. Make sure your floss isn’t coated with something harmful. Next I brush thoroughly with my homemade toothpaste, making sure to get the backs of my teeth as well as the front. And finally, I rinse with homemade mouthwash. I’ve been following this routine for about a year and the pain in my tooth is almost completely gone. If I’m not careful with very cold foods, I will still experience mild pain. My teeth are also cleaner and my breath is fresher than ever. The time and effort put in to care for my teeth is worth NOT having costly and painful dental work done.
Recipes for Mouthwash and Toothpaste
- 1/3 cup bentonite clay
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 15-25 drops essential oils (see notes)
Put bentonite clay in a bowl.
Heat the water on the stove, then stir in coconut oil until it is melted.
Add the water/coconut oil mixture to the clay and mix thoroughly. It may take a little time to get the right consistency!
Add the salt and choice of essential oils and mix thoroughly.
Keep in a covered jar. I like to use clean baby food jars. Dip your toothbrush in the paste and moisten before brushing.
Don't use metal with your bentonite clay. It will change the properties, so always use plastic or ceramic bowls and utensils.
You can give your toothpaste any flavor you like using essential oils. Peppermint and spearmint are good options. Cinnamon is also tasty. Tea tree has antibacterial properties. I also like to use Nature's Shield/OnGuard/Thieves. You may need to experiment a little to find what works for you.
I do not like to add baking soda to my toothpaste, as overuse can actually damage your teeth. I do, however, add it to my mouthwash.
- 16 ounces purified water
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 15-25 drops essential oils (see notes)
Put all ingredients in a glass bottle and shake well.
Peppermint or spearmint oil are great for freshening breath. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties. Cinnamon adds great flavor. Nature's Shield/OnGuard/Thieves oil are wonderful blends for health and boosting the immune system. You may need to experiment a little to find the flavors you like best.
What does your dental care routine look like? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!