With the December Holidays to keep us all stretched and stressed, I decided to give the MMM a bit of a break this month. Instead of a formal book club or an organized mission, I declared a “DIY December”. Free to choose whatever mission worked for you – however big or small you wanted.
Me, I decided to take a closer look at my oral care routine. Which was, unfortunately, pretty abysmal. For someone so focused on health and wellness, I had a big ol’ blinder on when it came to my teeth. Confession: I hadn’t been to the dentist since before I became pregnant. Um, that’s almost three years ago! I never flossed and aside from brushing twice a day, I didn’t do *anything* else to take care of my mouth.
And it was starting to show. I smoked for over a decade and I drink a lot of coffee and a lot of green juice. Super staining. Dull. Ick.
When I was pregnant, I developed swollen and sometimes-bleeding gums. It’s actually really common (about 50% of women) and it’s due to the hormones. My pregnancy-induced gingivitis didn’t go away after giving birth, though, and I still get flare-ups. Ugh.
So clearly, I was due for some dental attention. I did some research and devised a natural approach plan of action. I was curious to see how much I could reverse on my own, before visiting a dentist (which I will do of course, early in the new year).
Here’s what I did:
1. I began Oil Pulling every morning (here’s an interesting article on oil pulling, from a rationalists perspective). This is an ancient Ayurvedic technique where you swish oil (I use sesame) around in your mouth for a full 20 minutes first thing in the morning, prior to brushing. It’s supposed to detox your system and proponents claim it can alleviate all manner of disease. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I keep hearing about how it’s helped people brighten and whiten their teeth. I figured I’d give it a try.
2. I finally started flossing. Gah! What took me so long?! Every night before bed, and you know what? It feels good and it’s super easy. Again, what the hell took me so long?
3. I took out my tongue ring. It was a good run – almost 15 years! Almost half my life! But I’m pretty sure it was damaging my enamel and it certainly wasn’t helping things in there. It had to go. I miss it a lot less than I expected (now my lip ring, thats a different story – I’m not *me* without my lip ring!).
4. I switched back to using my homemade toothpaste. Yes, I had fallen off the wagon. With mommy-ing and book-writing and all of life’s other distractions, I’d gotten lazy and gone back to buying the Trader Joe’s natural toothpaste. But that stuff is crap and it has all sorts of ingredients I shouldn’t be using – ingredients that have actually been shown to damage teeth! So I’m back to using the homemade stuff and it feels really good. My mouth is thanking me.
I also picked up some tooth soap, which I’m excited to try out. It just arrived in the mail this morning, so I’ll let you guys know what I think of it after giving it a go.
5. A few other little things. Occasional baking soda “garglers” after lunch or snack (to de-acidify the mouth). Trying to be mindful about clenching my teeth (I do this a lot! Especially when I’m reading). Re-incorporating foods that are high in bone-building minerals, like nettle infusions and sea vegetables (I’d kind of loosened up on this during autumn).
And the results of all these changes?
WOW! All I can say is WOW. My teeth are SO MUCH brighter, after just a month. Whiter, clearer, they look and feel cleaner, and my whole mouth feels healthier. Still not perfect – I’ll need more time and a trip to the holistic dentist before I can expect that – but honestly, WAY better than I expected after 30 days. I think the oil pulling is responsible for most of the aesthetic turnaround, which is so cool. I’d call this mission a definite success!