Dr. Amy Bader, ND
Hi Ladies. After last month’s article about Cardiovascular Disease, I wanted to follow up with something equally important. Strong statement, right? This part of your body not only plays a role in heart health, but also in the health of your entire body. I am talking about your MOUTH! We all know a big, beautiful smile is the sign of happiness, but it is also a sign of HEALTH. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease, AKA gum disease, increases our risk or heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and respiratory diseases. That’s pretty serious stuff! Now, not too many of us think about the health of our mouths on a daily basis beyond brushing our teeth, so this month my goal to help you expand your awareness of your oral health. The bacteria in your mouth have an incredibly influential role… the root of gum disease and cavities. Your assignments will help you “swish, rinse, brush, repeat” your way to a better oral ecology.
Oil Pulling, termed “kavala” or “gundusha”, is an oral health technique that originated long ago in the Ayurvedic medicine tradition in India. It has been purported for eons to heal the mouth and therefore aid in healing the body. I have recommended oil pulling to many patients in my practice and the fed back is consistent: “My mouth feels better, my gums are healthier, my teeth are whiter, my breath is fresher, and my dentist is really happy with my improvement.” I have personally tried oil pulling and love it! My teeth really do look whiter when I am consistent. Here is how you do it. Put a tablespoon of oil, sesame or coconut, in your mouth. (Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but it will warm up in your mouth and liquefy.) Without swallowing or gargling it, swish it around for 5-20 minutes. When you are done, spit it in the trash (no need to clog your plumbing with it), rinse your mouth with warm water, and brush your teeth. That’s it! Violà! Do this daily for a couple weeks, then twice a week thereafter. It works by moisturizing the gums, stimulating salivary secretions full of wonderful enzymes, and ultimately establishing a healthier bacterial environment in your mouth.
Okay… by now you know I am obsessed with probiotics. I recently attended a lecture by Dr. David Perlmutter who expanded on how profoundly important healthy bacterial ecology is in our bodies. Now, I’m even MORE obsessed! I am often asked what kind of probiotics is my favorite. I almost always recommend powdered or liquid probiotics. What is the advantage of not locking up these bugs in capsules? I like powdered and liquid probiotics because they seed good bacteria in your MOUTH! You betcha! This is one of the best ways to prevent gum disease and cavities (as well as a lot of other health ailments.) So, (broken record, here) take probiotics daily and swish them in your mouth before you swallow. And if yours are in a capsule, open it up and put some in your mouth. (You can read more about the health benefits of probiotics in my article Gut Check.)
Not to be bossy, but… FLOSS. Everyday. No excuses. Enough said.
Okay, ladies. Grab your oil, probiotics, floss and get to it. Always remember— a healthy smile is the prettiest thing you will ever wear. (It’s great to kiss with, too!)
Take care of your(whole)self—
P.S. I did oil pulling while writing this. True story.
Amy Bader ND is a doctor, teacher, speaker, writer and entrepreneur. She is a graduate of the National College of Natural Medicine, where she is now an adjunct clinical faculty member training naturopathic medical students. She has private practices in Northern California and Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her beautiful daughter. She has a passion for treating patients with chronic diseases using clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, biotherapeutic drainage, and homeopathy. She has a particular interest in working with patients who want to lose weight and feel comfortable in their bodies.
Dr. Bader has been interviewed as an expert in natural medicine and natural healthcare for radio, newspapers, magazines and television. She has been a contributing expert columnist for a large online health resource website. Dr. Bader was a founding co-director of NCNM’s Integrative Skin Care Clinic. She is a member of the Advisory Counsel for Kamedis, a bio-herbal skin care company, and is a trainer for Radiancy, maker of LHE phototherapy systems.