Most of us only consider our oral health when something goes wrong. A surprise trip to the dentist, sudden toothache or bleeding when brushing your teeth are all signs that can alert you to a problem you may not previously have been aware of. But many dental and oral issues begin long before visible signs and symptoms manifest – and can often be avoided with proper oral hygiene.

A lot of holistic techniques we use today are derived from ancient medical systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda – many of which focused on preventative healthcare methods. Through using these techniques alongside regular dental hygiene you can help to maintain optimal oral health beyond brushing and flossing alone.

What is oral health?

Many of us only consider the health of our teeth and gums – but oral health actually encompasses many other areas and aspects including saliva production, bacteria and yeast balance and oral pH. The oral health system is an ever-changing, living environment which needs responsive daily care and attention.

What is integrative dentistry?

Integrative dentistry views oral health in a holistic way beyond a purely medical perspective, taking into account all aspects and focusing on lifestyle and preventative techniques. Integrative dentists will avoid invasive surgeries and treatments where possible. Instead they will recommend healthy habits and techniques you can implement at home to sooth and prevent common issues such as plaque, tooth decay, gum disease, cavities and sensitivity. Integrative dentistry often adopts an inside-out approach, focusing on aspects such as diet and nutrition, gut health and even mental health.

3 holistic oral health tips to try today

1/ Oil pulling

Since the oil-pulling Pinterest craze several years ago this oral wellness technique has been largely forgotten – but it’s one of the easiest and quickest daily rituals you can try to boost oral health. Oil pulling can also be incorporated into your morning routine with very little effort, time and expense involved.

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic technique which involves swishing oil around the mouth like mouthwash for 15-20 minutes in the morning or evening (morning is recommended) then spitting it out. The name comes from the idea that the oil and movement of the oil ‘pulls’ bugs and bacteria from under the gums and between the teeth.

Most people like to use coconut oil for this as it tastes better than other oils – around 1 tablespoon is enough to see the benefits of this simple but effective practice.

2/ Tongue scraping

Tongue scraping is an ancient practice – but modern science is now backing its benefits as our understanding of bacteria in the mouth and the role it has to play improves. Tongue scraping reduces the amount of undesirable bacteria in the mouth responsible for plaque build-up, decay and halitosis (bad breath), as well as controlling yeast imbalance. You can buy tongue scrapers online and from many health stores – a copper or metal scraper is preferable (and kinder to the environment) compared with plastic.

3/Hydrate healthily

Many people don’t realize that there’s a very simple way to protect and maintain oral health – by drinking plenty of water. Statistics show that 47% of Americans consume far below the recommended amount of water per day at just 3 16oz glasses or less. Only 13% drink more than 8 glasses per day.

Up your intake of fresh, filtered water and avoid consuming beverages that could harm oral health such as sugary, acidic sodas and concentrated fruit juices.

Continue reading the blog here for more holistic health tips.