You aim to eat a healthy diet:
-You opt to cook in, versus eating out, as much as possible.
-You eat your fruits and veggies to get in your vitamins and minerals.
-You even take a fish oil.
So you must be healthy right?
If you want to get a clear picture of how healthy you really are, look no further than your…teeth.
How healthy are your teeth?
In fact: Our teeth are visible indicators of our nutrient levels: if you are low on essential minerals, you can literally see it in your teeth!
For example, many people have “translucent” teeth. Now, while some folks may have a tiny bit of translucence due to genetics, the majority of such occurrences are due to nutrient deficiencies.
If we eat a diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals from whole, natural, foods, our teeth will be strong, white and cavity free; if we eat a diet full of grains, processed foods, low-nutrient filler foods (like white rice or iceberg lettuce), and, of course, sugar, our teeth suffer.
In addition, the products we put on our teeth are JUST LIKE the foods we choose to feed (or not feed our bodies)—and equally impact our teeth health and hygiene (either positively OR negatively).
For instance: You know fast-food and Skittles shouldn’t be staples in your diet if you want to be healthy, right?
So why would we “feed” our teeth with “fast-food” quality products: like much of the standard toothpastes on our shelves?
This is a message and platform of Shannon Drake—founder of The Dirt —a unique personal care company that creates and sells natural “health and beauty” products, such as toothpaste, breath spray, tongue scrapers, as well as shaving oils, skin oil, natural perfumes, and lip treatment.
I first came across The Dirt at the annual Paleo f(x) conference last year here in Austin, where I was introduced to their famous “Dirt” (a trace mineral tooth brushing powder).
Unlike any other “toothpaste” I had seen before, the Dirt’s tooth brushing powder aims to actually make your teeth stronger and whiter: rather than break them down?
Did you know the glycerin in modern toothpaste can coat your teeth and ACTUALLY prevent the natural process of re-mineralization that keeps your teeth strong and white?
(I didn’t know that either).
Taking these thoughts to heart: I decided to do an experiment myself.
I cut out the fake processed (chocolate) protein powder I was consuming 2-3 times per day (hello teeth staining too) and tossed the Colgate in favor of a more natural (fluoride-free) toothpaste, and not even 30-days later: Voila!!!
Whiter, brighter and healthier looking teeth.
I recently had the opportunity to chat further with Shannon on all-things teeth and holistic well-being to find out MORE about exactly how this OXY-MORON of NOT USING standard oral care products can serve our teeth BETTER.
If you want to BOOST your overall health, read on:
Q. What are common misconceptions when it comes to teeth and our oral care?
Shannon: As kids, we are taught that our teeth are nothing more than oddly-shaped, bones sticking out of our jaw and that no matter what we do, they will succumb to the scorn of cavities, chips, and stains and that we just have to accept that.
Furthermore, we’re also taught that all we can do to prevent these dental disasters is to slather our teeth with chemicals and detergents, run plastic fibers between them, see a man in a white coat with sharp tools regularly, and then cross our fingers in hopes that this practice will magically prevent our pearly pals from perishing permanently.
Now, while brushing and flossing properly, and seeing the right dentist regularly, is necessary (more on that later), the notion that our teeth are “dead” is simply not true.
In fact, our teeth are very alive and are some of the most fascinating parts of the human anatomy: did you know that they are the only bone type object that exists simultaneously inside and outside of our body?
The tops of our teeth – the crowns – are above the gum line, while the root connects directly into our jaw bone and, thus, the rest of our entire musculoskeletal system.
In addition to this anatomic awesomeness, our teeth also have a direct connection to our circulatory system as they are nourished by veins that travel along the jawline, up through our gums, and directly into their roots…
I know what you’re probably thinking: “Teeth need blood? But why?! Are they not merely banal bone bits for chomping and chewing all manners of treats?!’
NOPE! Our teeth are teeming with life, which your blood sustains by delivering nutrients up into the dentine – which is the softer, off-white, center – of each tooth.
The dentine then converts these nutrients into a barrage of tooth-building blocks that both maintain the might of enamel, and seal the damaged spots on the surface.
So yes, you better believe that our teeth are alive:
Our teeth eat, grow, and repair themselves throughout the entirety of our existence, just like the rest of our body.
(Likewise, you DON’T have to settle for ‘cavities’ or root canals or even teeth that fall out being ‘a part of life’—you just don’t).
Q. What about those of us who do have cavities, OR need “tooth work” done (like a root canal or even jaw surgery)? How do we ensure our teeth remain healthy, or improve our health after these procedures?
Shannon: Did you know that “cavities” – a common occurrence that we usually just accept as “part” of having teeth – are actually a bone disease due to malnutrition? (not just sugar!).
When we need to address cavities, or get some serious work like a root canal done, we must choose our dentist very carefully because, when we drill into the tooth, we are introducing bacteria and other foreign elements directly into our bloodstream – greatly increasing the risk of serious systemic infections. We must do our due diligence to ensure that our dentists are informed about proper hygiene and safe practices – something you think would be a no-brainer (but it’s not as common as you may think).
For example, if you’re getting a cavity filled, be sure the dentist uses a modern, white, porcelain filling, and not the old, black, heavy metal amalgams. I cannot stress this one enough: having deposits of mercury in your mouth slowly, cumulatively, poisons you over time.
Other ‘common’ endeavors of pulling teeth and performing root canals also increase the risk of infection, as the pit left behind is a haven for bacteria to spawn if not properly treated (that’s because these procedures not only cause significant local trauma to the gums and blood vessels below the jawline).
Ultimately, this results in a rather unsightly degradation of the jaw. Just think about elderly people you have seen who are missing a lot of teeth: the whole bottom-half of their face shrinks as their jaw contracts to compensate for the missing bones, resulting in the perma-pucker of a face that looks like it’s constantly suckling a ripe lemon.
Sounds no bueno, yea? I thought so, too.
The grand take-away here is this: our teeth are both a window and a doorway into our overall well-being; their constitution communicates exactly how our diet is affecting the rest of our bodies.
Q. What are your top tips for optimal hygiene?
Shannon: My top 5 tips for bacteria fighting beginners include:
1.) Always use an extra soft brush!
If your bristles are too stiff, you will damage your gums and cause more damage than good.
2.) Use a tongue scraper.
A proper metal tongue scraper will do wonders for bad breath and cuts down on oral bacteria in one swipe!
3.) Drop the alcohol-based mouthwash and switch to plain ol’ salt water.
Put 1/2 tsp of table salt into a cup of warm water and swish for 5-10 mins. Do this once a day. (add 2 drops of peppermint oil if you really desire that fresh, minty breath)
If my gums feel unhappy, or if I ate a lot of acidic fruit, I’ll swish 2 times a day.
…And now, an extra two tips for my oral hygiene heros!
4.) Add an oral irrigator to the line-up.
These are really useful to flush out the the gunk from the pockets in gums and spaces between teeth
5.) Use “gum drops” at night.
No, not the candies ;p I’m talking about actual drops of anti-bacterial goodness to rub onto your gums. Here’s my recipe!
1 Oz Neem oil
10 drops of tea tree Oil
10 drops of peppermint essential oil
5 drops of cinnamon bark essential oil
5 drops of clove Essential Oil
5 drops of Myhrr Essential oil (skip this if you are pregnant)
Blend well and rub 1-2 drops along your gum line with a clean finger.
Let it sit for 5 minutes, and then spit out any excess.
You can add some pure stevia extract if you like sweetness, but please make sure it does not have any alcohol or glycerine in it.
Q. Summing everything up: how can we take the best care of our teeth as possible?!
Shannon: Here it goes!!
- Brush with a soft toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste twice a day
- Floss after brushing with some essential oils of tea tree.
- Swish with salt water daily
- Scrape your tongue daily
- Use a rubber gum stimulator to remove stubborn gunk from gum lines
- Use an oral irrigator to flush out gum pockets
- Apply some “gum drops” to your gum line
- Visit your (hygiene-savvy and holistic) dentist regularly
- Use a “night guard” if you clench or grind your teeth
- Work from the inside out …
- Eat a nutrient-rich diet of whole, natural, foods;
- Do not eat any processed foods, soda, or “filler” / low-nutrient foods (eg. processed grains, white potatoes, iceberg lettuce, etc);
- Exercise regularly.
- Drink filtered water or spring water, if possible
- Ensure you are getting proper amounts of bioavailable Calcium, Phosphorus, Folate, Magnesium, vitamin D, A, C, B3, B12, B2, K2, and healthy fats
- Smile regularly!
In short: Do we need to invest in things like Crest White Strips, Colgate whitening toothpastes, veneers, and SoniCare toothbrushes to keep our teeth pretty and healthy?
The answer: Nope. Not really.
Focus on fueling your body well and cleaning your teeth naturally—and be amazed!
(Don’t believe it? I dare you! Try changing your routine for 3 months and see the difference).
Want to try the Dirt for yourself?
Get 10% off your first order online!