You know the drill (or how to avoid one!) for good dental care: Brush, floss, rinse. But ingredients like fluoride or alcohol in many dental care products are potentially harmful. Here are a few natural ways to take care of your teeth and gums—and keep you smiling!
No to: Fluoride
Yes to: Xylitol
Fluoride is added to dental products (and many public water supplies) because the American Dental Association says it helps remove the plaque that causes gum disease and tooth decay, and it helps strengthen tooth enamel. But there is a downside: according to the Fluoride Action Network, it has been linked to several illnesses, allergies and compromised thyroid functioning. Alarmingly, the FDA requires a “poison” label on fluoride toothpastes, due to its toxicity if even small amounts are ingested.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener (look for xylitol made from birch bark), that actually stops the production of tooth-decaying acids and helps recalcify tooth enamel. Try Xlear's Spry Fluoride-Free Toothpaste with Xylitol that combines xylitol with bacteria-fighting aloe vera. For flossing, single-use Xylitol Antibacterial Cranberry Floss Sachets from Radius amp up protection from cavities with both xylitol and cranberry compounds that help stop bacteria from attaching to teeth.
No to: Alcohol
Yes to: Oxygen & Coconut Oil
Mass-marketed mouth rinses rely on alcohol to fight bacteria in our mouths, but long-term use of these alcohol-based products has been linked to oral cancer. A safer way to keep acid-forming bacteria at bay is with oxygen, in the form of hydrogen peroxide. Essential Oxygen's Organic Brushing Rinse is free of alcohol, fluoride and sodium lauryl sulfate to keep gums healthy, teeth white and breath fresh.
Another way to rinse: “oil pulling," an ancient Ayurvedic technique that’s been in the news lately. Take 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 10-20 minutes, then spit it out. Fans claim oil pulling draws harmful bacteria away from your teeth and gums and cleans much better than brushing alone.
No to: Teeth Whitening Strips and Trays
Yes to: Activated Charcoal
Teeth whiteners often contain high concentrations of bleaching agents that can cause extreme tooth sensitivity—especially systems that use trays or strips to keep bleach on the teeth for 20 minutes or more. Instead, try brushing your teeth with activated charcoal. Take ½ teaspoon (or one capsule) and dissolve it in a small amount of water or coconut oil, then brush your teeth gently for 2 minutes. Your teeth will be black when brushing(!) but after spitting it out and rinsing you’ll see brighter teeth and tannin stains (coffee, wine, tea) gone.
No to: Sugary & Starchy Snacks
Yes to: Apples
Granulated sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay, and starchy foods mix with saliva forming an “acid bath” in our mouths that erodes tooth enamel. Instead, reach for an apple (nature’s toothbrush!), as it increases saliva flow and its astringent qualities help reduce the build-up of cavity-causing bacteria.