Ayurveda’s Approach to Dental Hygiene, Gum Disease and Bad Breath

Dental health and a pure breath are thought of as good indicators of health and vitality. The ancient science of Ayurveda offers preventive dental tips that are easy to follow and pack surprising results.

Diet

Of course when thinking of promoting healthy teeth and gums, proper diet is a key approach. In particular, eating too many sweets, refined sugars and carbohydrates can lead to tooth decay and other dental problems. Therefore, it is helpful to avoid too many sugary foods and drinks.

Just as your dentist has told you, it is also necessary to clean your teeth properly. The original Ayurvedic texts mention using special twigs to clean teeth. The toothbrush and dental floss are our modern equivalents.

Tongue Scraping

Ayurveda recommends the usage of tongue cleaners for the scraping of the tongue.

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This daily cleaning of the tongue’s surface helps removes any build-up on the tongue, which, if left untreated, could lead to bad breath. Tongue scraping stimulates the reflex points of the tongue and stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes. It also helps contain bacteria growth (approximately 500 varieties). There is actually medical evidence now indicating that regular usage of tongue scrapers can help eliminate anaerobic bacteria, while decreasing odor from the mouth.

Gandusha

Gandusha (sesame-oil gargle and sesame-oil massage of the gums) can protect your mouth from bacteria and gum deterioration. Research on the practice showed that seame-oil gargle significantly reduces bacteria in the space between teeth and gums. Researchers consider bacteria in this area to be the major cause of gum disease.

Traditionally one performs gandusha in the morning after a full-body Ayurvedic oil massage. Use fresh, warm sesame oil.

Here are the instructions for performing gandusha:

  1. First, fill your mouth as full as possible with warm water. Hold this in your mouth for about half a minute. Then spit it out.
  2. Next, fill your mouth as full as you can with warm sesame oil. Hold it in your mouth for about a half a minute to a minute. Dispose of the oil.
  3. Take a little oil in your mouth and gargle for half a minute to a minute. Dispose of the oil.
  4. Massage the oil into your gums with your finger. Be gentle, but use enough pressure for the message to be pleasantly invigorating. Take two or three minutes to do this thoroughly.
  5. Finally, if you wish, you can rinse your mouth with warm water to reduce any oily residue.

Note: Although sesame oil is healthy for your gums, it can clog bathroom drains and pipes. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep a small container handy to hold the used oil until you can dispose of it properly.

As gandushan strengthens and purifies your mouth, it also improved digestion. This is helpful during the summer months when our natural ability to digest weakens. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the root cause of bad breath is poor digestion and/or poor oral hygiene. The two are usually related, in that poor digestion accelerates oral activity that leads to unsavory breath.

Ama

If you find you consistently have bad breath or wake up with a thick white coating on your tongue, you probably have some accumulated impurities or ama in your body. The traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda, known as Panchakarma, are designed to remove deep seated impurities and toxins. You might also want to consult an Ayurvedic expert about improving your diet and strengthening your digestion.

For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

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Maintaining a Healthy Smile with Ayurveda

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The other day I was reading an article on the BBC period drama, Wolf Hall. Despite the lengths that the program-makers went to ensure historical accuracy, historians were finding fault in certain details. One detail (the straight white teeth of all the actors) was defended by Hilary Mantel, the author of book on which the series is based. Mantel insisted that a Tudor drama would be less accurate had it insisted on blackened teeth – as it was a time when sugar was yet to become widely available.

Apparently, tooth decay was mostly a disease of wealthy Westerners prior to about 1840 when sugar became cheap. Most ordinary people had excellent teeth. Another wake-up call to avoid sugar.

Sugar (or sucrose) is used by a bacteria found in the mouth (streptococcus mutans) to make a sticky polysaccharide glue that allows it to stick to the tooth surface and form plaque. 

Streptococcus mutans also makes lactic acid out of sucrose and other carbohydrates, and this acid dissolves the tooth enamel causing decay. It is this combination of plaque and acid that promotes dental decay. Sucrose is the only sugar that streptococcus mutans can use to form this sticky polysaccharide glue. Avoiding eating sugary foods and drinks and brushing your teeth after eating them is the best way of avoiding dental decay.

Dental hygiene is specifically addressed in Ayurveda. The ancient texts mention using special twigs to clean teeth, so the original Ayurveda experts appreciated the value of cleanliness. The toothbrush and dental floss are our modern equivalents.

Ayurveda also recommends gandusha, a sesame-oil gargle and sesame-oil massage of the gums. Oil is antimicrobial and when it penetrates the tissues of the mouth, it can inhibit bacterial growth and gum deterioration.

Edwards Smith, M.D., and scientists at Wichita State University conducted research showing that sesame-oil gargle significantly reduces bacteria in the space between teeth and gums. Researchers consider bacteria in this area to be the major cause of gum disease. (See instructions below for gandusha)

While sesame oil is traditionally recommended, gandusha can be done with other oils as well. In vitro lab studies have indicated the antibacterial activity of edible oils such as coconut oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil.

A new study was published in the Nigerian Journal of Medicine‘s March/April 2015 edition on the practice of gandusha using coconut oil. The research looked at 60 people between the ages of 16 and 18 who added the technique to their oral hygiene routine over a 30-day period. Their plaque and gum disease levels were assessed on days 1, 7, 15, and 30. After just seven days, levels of plaque and gum disease significantly reduced, and continued to decrease over a period of a month.

The researchers, from Kennur Dental College in India, chose to research coconut oil because, “Coconut oil is an easily available edible oil. It is unique because it contains predominantly medium chain fatty acids, of which 45-50 percent is lauric acid. Lauric acid has proven anti inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.”

Performing Gandusha

  1. First, fill your mouth as full as you can with warm water. Hold this for about a half a minute to a minute. Then spit it out.
  2. Next, fill your mouth as full as possible with warm sesame oil. Hold it in your mouth for about a half a minute to a minute. Then dispose of it.
  3. Take a little oil into your mouth and gargle for a half a minute to a minute. Dispose of the oil.
  4. Massage the oil into your gum with your finger. Be gentle but use enough pressure for the massage to be pleasantly invigorating. Take two or three minutes to do this thoroughly.
  5. Finally, if you wish, you can rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any oil residue.

Please note: Although sesame oil is healthy for your gums, it can clog bathroom drains. Therefore it is a good idea to keep a small container handy to hold the used oil until you can dispose of it properly.

Incidentally, while gandusha strengthens and purifies your mouth, it also improves digestion.

www.theraj.com