Looking for a boost in your overall health and confidence? Start with your mouth! If your body is a temple, then your mouth would be the awe-inspiring entry way with the big beautiful doors. In other words, it sets the tone. Your relationship with your mouth....matters.
“One's eyes are what one is, one's mouth is what one becomes.” - John Galsworthy
According to Ayurveda, the mouth is THE major gateway to the human body. Taking good care of it is vital to physical, mental AND emotional wellness (if you've ever had bad breath you know what I'm talking about). In fact, Ayurvedic practitioners examine the tongue, teeth, and lips to get a picture of overall health because the mouth provides clues to the state of the entire body!
For most of us, dental care is something we've been doing since before we could walk or talk yet it's not one of the first things we think of when considering how to improve our health and well-being. Ayurveda holds that mouth care is as important and vital to our health as any other wellness practices, and recommends a comprehensive daily routine for oral care that focuses on whole body health (brushing your teeth isn't the half of it).
Interested in the Ayurvedic take on the basics? Ready to expand your mouth care horizons? Either way you'll find something below that fits the bill...
If you're just looking to keep the teeth and gums happy and do the minimum needed to avoid too many trips to the dental chair, you'll want to be sure to include the following in your daily oral care routine:
- Clean your teeth. This one you probably have some experience with (I hope). Ayurveda recommends cleaning the teeth with a soft brush and tooth cleaner (paste or powder) that is astringent (for tightening the gums), pungent (for its cleansing qualities), and bitter (for its antiseptic qualities). Commercial toothpastes are often full of chemicals, colors and artificial sweeteners. You can avoid all of that by making your own tooth powder or buying a natural toothpaste with some of these properties.
- Get a tongue scraper...and use it! Scraping the tongue is a vital part of the Ayurvedic daily routine. It stimulates the internal organs, removes bacteria, aids digestion, and is also a great way to keep your breath fresh! Twice a day you'll want to give the tongue a scrape. Major excavation isn't necessary, just several (Ayurveda recommends around 7, whatever you need to get the entire surface) gentle scraping strokes. Too easy!
These two things every day along with a healthy diet and you're golden!
A Little Something Extra For Good Measure
If you're ready to kick your mouth (and health) care routine up a notch, or are possibly dealing with some health issues like headaches, cold, flus, you can try adding these into the mix:
- Take a look at your tongue. Every morning (and evening), check out the state of your tongue. What color is it? What shape is it? What's hanging out on it (and what color is that!?). Even just noticing how your tongue changes from day to day will give you clues about your state of health. One of the key things to watch out for is a thick white coating (which means a detox might be in order).
- Swish some oil. These days this lovely task is better known as “oil pulling”! Most people do it to strengthen the teeth and gums, but it's also known to help with congestion, prevent diseases of the mouth, freshen breath, whiten teeth, detoxify the body, and even help with issues like headaches. Sesame oil is recommended, but you can also use coconut oil (which has a milder taste).
Work with about a tablespoon of oil and swish it around in the mouth for up to 20 minutes (just until the oil is milky and your mouth stops feeling oily) before spitting it out. Oh, and be mindful of your plumbing and make sure to dispose of the oil in the trash.
Going For Optimal Oral Care
If you're ready to go the whole enchilada, try adding these to your routine and give yourself a pat on the back for having such a healthy (and smart) mouth!
- Chew something. Prime the liver and digestive system first thing in the morning by chewing something. No, not your finger nails! A teaspoon or so of sesame or fennel seeds (my personal fave), will help strengthen the teeth and prevent receding gums.
- Give your gums a rub. Massaging the gums with sesame or coconut oil is also a great way to keep them strong and in place. Try it before, or after, the oil pulling!
And No Matter What...
Use powerful words. Remember that the mouth is one of the most vital vehicles for expressing our truth in the world. It's often said that our words create our world. And if that's true then being mindful of what and how we speak to others is a powerful step towards creating and maintaining a healthy mind, body and soul!
Join the conversation on this vital topic: Is mouth care at the top of your self-care to do list? Have you heard of oil pulling? Have you tried it? Don't be shy... Share your questions and experiences in the comments below!