Holistic Dental Care – How to up your mouth care game holistically, ward off cancer, and save the planet in the process
Did you know you increase your risk of cancer by not flossing regularly? I know, shocking, right?
Here’s the link: regular tooth flossing decreases your exposure to the bacteria that can not only cause plaque, but that can, if left unchecked, lead to periodontal (gum) disease. The plaque first creates the irritation to the gums, causing them to bleed when you brush. That bleeding, however minor, is a sign of serious inflammation. The gum tissue reacts to the bacteria (which is a wounding process) by creating an inflammatory response.
Inflammation is the body’s attempt at self-protection; the aim being to remove harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens – and begin the healing process. The inflammatory response in the body to microbial infection orchestrates a defense to eliminate it, and then mediates tissue repair and regeneration, which may happen due to tissue damage related to the infection. However, sometimes inflammation can cause further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating. More inflammation is created in response to the existing inflammation.
The longer you have the inflammation, the more at risk you are for all kinds of systemic illnesses, everything from allergies, coronary heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. The association between the development of cancer and chronic inflammation has long been appreciated, as it leads to dysplasia, or abnormal changes in cells.
Bleeding of the gums is a sign of gum disease. And gum disease is common. Really common. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, up to 80% of the adult population has some level of periodontal disease, while only about 10% are aware of it, as telltale signs of the disease—bleeding gums, for one—don’t typically show up until the middle-to-late stages. Regular, daily flossing is the best way to prevent gum disease.
Here are some other great holistic dental care tips:
• Use an electric toothbrush. Automatic brushers massage the gums to stimulate blood flow, bring nutrients to the tissue, and release toxins.
• Opt for anti-bacterial mouth rinse and toothpaste to cut down on the bacteria in your mouth.
• Consider a water pick for flossing, or be vigilant about flossing daily the old-school way (you want to reach the spaces between your teeth, where the disease really takes hold).
• A diet with at least six to eight fist-sized servings of fruits and vegetables, along with nutritional supplements of calcium, vitamin D, vitamin C, magnesium, and anti-inflammatories such as fish oil, are all critical building blocks of oral health.
• Cut out the junk food. Eating well boosts the integrity of the entire immune system and nourishes the oral soft tissues, which are the most vulnerable in the body.
• Quit smoking. Smoking causes inflammation and decreases body’s immune response.
• Keep stress in check. Stress causes inflammation in the blood vessels, which breaks down the soft tissue in the mouth, inhibiting its ability to heal.
Wait There’s More…
The amount of dental floss sold in the US each year could span the distance from the earth to the moon and back four times! As a result, the production and disposal of dental floss have a tremendous impact on the environment.
The dangers in dental floss? Petroleum, Chemicals, and More Petroleum!
•Most dental floss is made from nylon, which is a petroleum based product. Nylon, like most petroleum products, has a very slow decay rate and will sit in landfills for a long time before decomposing.
•Most floss is coated with a type of Teflon-yes, think non-stick cookware-called PTFE. The EPA has found these coatings to be highly toxic-causing all sorts of health issues including various forms of cancer.
• Waxed floss is generally coated with petroleum based synthetic wax – more petroleum.
•The containers that house the floss are also petroleum based-plastic. Even more petroleum!
•Lessen your impact by choosing floss that is not coated with petroleum derived products
•Use less floss
•Find brands without PTFE-Teflon
•Choose floss coated with a natural wax or no wax
•Look for minimal or recyclable packaging
Here are some natural brands to check out:
• Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Waxed Dental Floss Tape-a naturally waxed floss that contains no alcohol or artificial detergents, colors or synthetic perfumes and no animal ingredients or testing.
• Eco-Dent Natural Dental Care, Gentle Floss -no petro-wax used and eco-friendly floss packaging.
• Radius Biodegradable Floss uses 100% silk in biodegradable packaging. (Not vegan, though)
Happy Flossing those pearly whites. Send me your favorite Earth friendly brands of floss in the comments section.