There a number of Ayurvedic practices that focus on oral health. Some of us think oral health requires nothing more than brushing our teeth, flossing, and having regular dental cleanings and checkups. But oral health deserves much more attention than that. Medical and dental professionals stress how important oral health is to overall wellness because of its far-reaching impact on the deeper organs and tissues of the body. Many people find that when they introduce Ayurvedic oral health care to their daily routine, their general health improves. We suggest that you adopt two simple Ayurvedic oral hygiene practices and see how they work for you.
First, Ayurveda recommends using a tongue cleaner at the start of each day, upon waking and while your stomach is still empty. According to Ayurveda, the tongue is connected to our health and mirrors the state of vital organs including the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, spleen, kidneys, heart, and lungs. Scraping away the impurities that collect on the tongue is said to directly affect each of these organs. Most people use a toothbrush to do this, but because the tongue is soft and spongy, a hard, rigid instrument such as a metal tongue scraper cleanses this tissue more efficiently than pliant bristles.
By clearing away the coating of debris, microbes, and ama(i.e., toxic residue from undigested food) that builds up in the folds and grooves of the tongue, a scraper optimizes oral hygiene, which in turn helps protect the integrity of our teeth and other oral tissues. The removal of this buildup also helps maintain our general health by preventing oral bacteria from seeping into our bloodstream. This practice further enhances our overall well-being by stoking digestive fire, sharpening our sense of taste, and stimulating the internal organs.
It’s very easy to use a tongue cleaner at the start of each day. Just hold the ends of the tongue cleaner in both hands, open your mouth, and extend your tongue. Place the curved edge of the cleaner at the rear of the tongue, as far back as you can, and then, pressing gently on the tongue, pull the cleaner to the front.
Another easy Ayurvedic practice is oil pulling. Oil pulling consists of swishing oil in the mouth for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. This is best done with organic sesame or coconut oil. All oils are lipid-based, as are the exterior cell membranes of the microorganisms that inhabit the mouth. When these microbes come in contact with the oil, their cell membranes adhere to the oil, which helps detach them from the teeth and gums. This practice removes harmful mouth bacteria that raise the risk of not only plaque, cavities, gum inflammation, and bad breath, but also blood vessel and heart damage.
Oil by nature is heavy and warm. These qualities soothe and nourish the tissues. The practice of swishing oil throughout the oral cavity and in between the teeth distributes these beneficial qualities to all the tissues of the mouth, boosting their strength and resilience
In addition, the swishing action activates a wide array of muscles in and around the mouth. Some of these muscles are seldom engaged and typically get very little exercise. By working them for an extended period, swishing tones and strengthens these muscles, while increasing circulation to the entire mouth, thereby supporting both the nourishment and detoxification of the oral tissues. Healthy blood flow is particularly important for encouraging firm, healthy gums.
To enjoy these health benefits, practice this simple routine every day: In the morning, on an empty stomach, swish a mouthful (about 1 tablespoon) of coconut or sesame oil or a combination of both for up to 20 minutes. Swish the oil side to side, all around the gums, teeth, and cheeks and also pull the oil in and out between the teeth. Once finished spit out the oil, and rinse with water.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.