Friday, March 16, 2012

Herbal Oral Hygiene - Part 1

Greetings My Health-Seeking Friends! Hope everyone is feeling great . . . spring is coming and the weather is warming up here in northern Maine. Yippee! The spring birds are arriving in droves - earlier than usual this year due to the unusually warm weather nationwide. Their "cheeps and chirps and melodious songs" are indeed a blessing to the ears!

Today's topic may seem a bit unusual, but I frequently get e-mails from the readers of my blogs and books (see and for more info.) asking about how they can naturally take care of their teeth, gums, and breath without depending on potentially toxic, commerically-prepared toothpastes, mouthwashes, and other types of breath fresheners. Beginning today, I'll present a series of blogs highlighting easy-to-make, herbal oral hygiene recipes that offer effective, tasty care for your pearly whites that also leave your breath fresh, and gums in tip-top shape. Enjoy!

The Negative Side of Commercial Oral Hygiene Products

Most commercial toothpastes contain artificial sweeteners or actual sugar, foaming agents, detergents, fluoride (a potentially toxic ingredient which an increasing number of people like to avoid), and synthetic whitening agents or bleaches, many of which, over the years, can wear down tooth enamel, erode gum tissue, and be absorbed into your body through the lining of your mouth. Most mouthwashes are colored with artificial dyes, infused with bad-breath-masking, synthetic flavors, and contain irritating chemicals and preservatives.

Why do most commercial oral hygiene products come with a warning on the label stating, "Do Not Swallow"?? Could it be that the ingredients might make you ill? I've never understood why a product that was designed to promote a clean, fresh, healthy mouth should come with a warning. I find that most perplexing!

The Benefits of Natural, Homemade Oral Hygiene Products

It's easy to make effective, inexpensive, tasty, nontoxic alternatives to standard oral care products. Though they won't taste as sweet as their commercial cousins, the flavors will grow on you, and you may notice that your mouth feels cleaner and fresher longer without the use of chemicals. Try a gentle, natural approach to maintain strong teeth and healthy gums with these recipes that I'll be sharing with you.

NOTE: If you have chronic bad breath or dental problems, see a dental professional.

Soda & Salt Toothpaste

This is a simple, inexpensive, odor-eliminating, tooth-whitening, and highly effective formula. It leaves your mouth feeling super-clean. Note: Cinnamon and clove essential oils may irritate sensitive gums and tongue.

- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
- 1 drop of any of the following essential oils: peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark. Or, you may use 1 drop of tea tree essential oil if you have a gum infection that needs help in healing.
- A few drops of water
- Optional: 1-2 drops of thick vegetable glycerin for added sweet taste and smooth texture

Recommended For: everyone
Use: twice daily
Follow With: water rinse or mouthwash
Prep Time: approximately 2 minutes
Blending Tools: small bowl, toothbrush, or small spoon
Store In: do not store; mix as needed
Yield: 1 treatment

Method: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn't be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush.

Application Tips: Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.

Alternatively, if you don't want to try your hand at making any of the recipes I'll be presenting in this herbal hygiene series, thankfully, there are chemical-free, effective commercial brands available at better health food stores . . . such as Tom's of Maine (fluoride free), Auromere, Nature's Gate, and Weleda. Until next time . . . be well, happy, healthy, and here's to fresh breath and smooth, glossy teeth.

Note: This article is by Stephanie Tourles, Lic. Esthetician & Herbalist, and adapted from her book, Organic Body Care Recipes, Storey Publishing, 2007. The information is true and complete to the best of Mrs. Tourles' knowledge. All recommendations are made without guarantee on the part of Mrs. Tourles. She disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. It is for educational purposes only.


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