When we think of high health and the world of total wellness, we’re typically going with green juice, adaptogens, and a diet rich in superfoods and scant in processed sugars, gluten, and dairy, and well, we wouldn’t be wrong. Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet and maintaining a harmonious fitness regime is absolutely high priority. But there is one major area that gets woefully overlooked— our mouth.
Our mouths are constantly receiving input. While it may just be one of many, ehem, orifices, it is certainly the largest, and definitely the one we are constantly interacting with. In fact, saliva is so much more than spit. Science says that salivary glands are heroes with multiple functions—mouth cleaning, protection, antimicrobial action, and of course, a little pre-digestion, just to name a few.
"Drawing blood could be a thing of the past when all you need is a simple swab. That’s powerful."
This same study also shows next level powers of saliva in its potential value “in the early diagnosis of oral diseases, such as dental caries and periodontal disease, as well as cancer, diabetes and other systemic disorders.” Essentially, drawing blood could be a thing of the past when all you need is a simple swab. That’s powerful.
But it’s not just saliva that we revere. More studies show that oral infections (like in the gums and around the teeth), especially periodontitis, may have a role in the development of a number of systemic diseases. This includes but is not limited to cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, and low birth weight. If that sounds crazy to you, we’re right there with ya. Cardiovascular disease starts in the mouth? What?
But it’s true in many cases. Recent progress in this study proves that microorganisms (like the little guys that cause infection) that enter the oral cavity can be the cause of systemic diseases and chronic, dangerous inflammation. When they get into a small cut or existing oral infection, this is when they wreak their havoc, “especially in immunocompromised hosts such as patients suffering from malignancies, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis or having corticosteroid or other immunosuppressive treatment.”
While a number of epidemiological studies suggest that oral infection, especially periodontitis, may be a risk factor for systemic diseases, not all hope is lost. Of course staying on top of your oral hygiene is key, and there are some holistic ways to maximize your oral health.
Oil pulling is an incredible Ayurvedic practice of swishing a mild oil, like sunflower or coconut, in your mouth for 5-15 minutes each morning. The act pulls debris from your gums and teeth, as well as bacteria. Do it before putting anything else in your mouth, first thing in the morning, and follow with brushing.
Sea salt is incredibly astringent and anti-bacterial, so try brushing your teeth with it. You can also swish warm salt water for the same antiseptic effects. Essential oils like eucalyptus, thyme, and peppermint are all very antimicrobial, and are great dropped onto your toothbrush and massaging into gums and teeth.
This recent study shows that green tea can inhibit the growth of periodontal pathogens, as if we needed another reason to consume the fat burning, metabolism boosting, anti-aging super liquid. Also make sure to get your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, because more studies have shown it improves gum-to-tooth attachment to prevent receding and open infections. Find your omegas in fish, avocados, and nuts. Because at the end of the day, nourishment is the ultimate self-care.