5 Tips for a Naturally Healthy Smile

We all want a sparkling smile with white teeth and healthy gums. But did you know that our overall health is impacted by the health of our mouth and teeth? Bacteria in our mouth can lead to gum disease and cavities, but persistent inflammation from oral bacteria has been linked to serious health issues like stroke, diabetes lung disease and heart infections, even premature births. Here are the best ways to keep our mouths (and bodies!) naturally healthy.

Use natural stain-removers for whiter teeth.

Mass-marketed whitening toothpastes rely on bleaching ingredients like peroxide or abrasive chemicals to remove stains, which often cause tooth sensitivity. Instead, look for toothpastes with natural botanicals that gently remove stains and yellowing on teeth. Natural enzymes are a good choice to break up tartar, and gentle buffers like bamboo powder, purified silica (from sand) or baking soda help remove stains.

Himalaya Whitening Toothpaste’s botanical formula features pineapple and papaya enzymes (bromelain and papain) to dissolve stains on teeth, while thyme, neem and pomegranate extracts keep gums healthy.

Desert Essence Whitening Toothpaste uses bamboo fiber and baking soda to remove stains, while sea salt and tea tree oil fight cavity-causing bacteria.

Or try Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste Antiplaque & Whitening Fluoride-Free, which gently removes stains with purified silica and fights tartar build-up with purified zinc.

Vitamins, calcium or fluoride will re-mineralize teeth.

De-mineralization happens when the surface on tooth enamel starts to dissolve; it’s the earliest stage of tooth decay. It can be reversed with bone-building vitamins like vitamins A, C and K and calcium. Fluoride is recommended by dentists for anyone over age 2, since research shows it slows down demineralization of teeth. Diet is important too, so avoid sodas and diet soda as well as refined sugars and grains, since they’re all contributors to enamel loss.

Jason Nutrismile Enamel Defense Toothpaste Fluoride-Free strengthens teeth with vitamin C and calcium. And CloSYS Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste’s sulfate-free formula is gentle for sensitive mouths and offers sodium fluoride for strengthening.

Prevent and treat gingivitis with healing botanicals and xylitol.

Gingivitis causes inflammation and tenderness in our gums, and often bleeding. Treat irritated gums with natural inflammation-reducing botanicals and keep gums healthy with antibacterial essential oils—or use xylitol, a naturally occurring carbohydrate that’s been shown to reduce cavities and gum inflammation.

Brush with a xylitol-concentrated paste (25 percent+) like Spry Fluoride-Free Toothpaste. Or soothe irritated gums with Weleda Plant Gel Toothpaste, with healing calendula and myrrh extract and inflammation-reducing ratanhia root. Then swish a little Natural Dentist Anti-Gingivitis Mouth Rinse after brushing to keep gums healthy. This alcohol-free formula uses peppermint, sage oil and xylitol to prevent cavities.

Choose kids’ toothpaste based on their age and ingredients.

Fluoride has traditionally been used to reduce cavities but debate surrounds its use, especially for young kids who might ingest too much from eating toothpaste (read about dental fluorosis), so it’s important to consider the facts when deciding if fluoride is right for your family. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) considers fluoride harmful for children under age 2 but The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends fluoride to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Whatever advice you follow, natural, organic choices are best for a healthy mouth, and when it comes to kids, flavor counts!

For baby’s first teeth (6 months and older) try gentle Radius Organic Children’s Coconut Oil Toothpaste, which is fluoride free and cleans teeth and soothes gums with coconut, chamomile and aloe. Tom’s of Maine Kid’s Toothpaste in Strawberry uses calcium and silica to gently clean teeth. Once they’re over age 2, Natural Dentist Toothpaste Kids Cavity Zapper in Grape is a tasty fluoride and xylitol gel.

Floss every day.

Flossing removes almost half of the plaque that builds up around our teeth and reaches the places a brush can’t fit. But be sure and pick the right type of floss for your teeth: If you have larger spaces between your teeth, choose a flat dental tape; for close-set teeth, try thin floss that’s waxed or shred-resistant.

Ecodent Gentle Dental Floss is waxed for easy flossing and lightly flavored with natural peppermint and orange oils. Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque Flat Floss is slightly wider to cover more tooth area. And an easy way to carry floss with you so you always have it on hand: single-use Radius Vegan Xylitol Antibacterial Cranberry Floss Sachets.