Smiling is good for us and I like to laugh. Science has shown that smiling can lift your mood, reduce stress, and even help your immune system. Experimental psychology reports that the mere activity of moving your facial muscles to form a smile – even if you’re faking it – creates positive emotions and lifts your mood. I owe my great smiles to my parents by paying for the braces and making sure I went to the dentist twice a year.
As a kid, I hated going to the dentist. I hated cleaning because I could feel the strange vibrations through my whole body. And let’s not forget the lengthy lectures the dental hygienist gave about flossing and brushing. To top it off, the dentist had a small magnifying glass that clipped to his own glasses and enlarged his hairy nose. The whole experience was just terrible.
But over the years, I’ve followed a schedule, usually twice a year, to see a dentist recommended by the U.S. dental profession.
Did you know that poor oral hygiene can have negative consequences for your entire body because bacteria from the mouth enter your bloodstream and cause infections? I know western doctors are always concerned before performing an operation if you have recently had dental work and even require you to get a dentist’s approval before certain surgeries like joint replacements and heart surgery. While not all surgeons require dental clearance before surgery, it is a good idea to make sure that you do not have any dental problems. The body is a closed circuit and infections in the mouth can easily get to your surgical site.
Dental hygiene is of the utmost importance to your overall health. Ayruveda (the oldest holistic healing system in the world, which was developed in India more than 3,000 years ago) pays special attention to the oral cavity as it is the primary gateway to the body.
Oral Ayurveda practices include brushing your teeth with neem sticks (which I have never tried), oil pulling, and tongue scraping. Several research papers concluded that these Ayurvedic practices should be incorporated into modern dentistry. Oil pulling is an age-old practice that has grown in popularity. An oil such as sesame or coconut is rinsed into the mouth for about 20 minutes and then spat out. It is believed to “remove toxins” from the body, but unfortunately scientific evidence is insufficient for this practice. A small clinical study has shown that oil pulling is just as effective at reducing plaque, gingivitis, and some bacteria as is mouthwash.
I’ve tried it a couple of times but it didn’t convince me. You may find the rush of the oil in your mouth refreshing and calming. Another Ayurveda practice is tongue scraping. Your tongue contains hundreds of taste buds, and gentle scraping helps activate all of these taste sensors. Although I’ve been inconsistent in practice, I’ve noticed a difference in tongue scraping. Studies over the past 10 years show that a thousand year old method of cleaning the tongue can be a valuable addition to modern oral care. There are many types of tongue scrapers on the market.
One of my favorite new additions to my oral health routine is a water silk. My current dentist and his top-notch dental hygienist suggested buying a water silk to get those little, annoying bits of food out between my teeth. It seems that the gaps widen with age and include food here and there.
I really didn’t mean to spend $ 75 on his recommended “Waterpik water raft,” but it’s by far one of my best pandemic buys! It’s a wonderful addition to my oral health regimen.
Many people think that the only time they need to see a dentist is when they are in pain or think something is wrong, but regular dentist visits help maintain good oral health for life. Be sure to make an appointment with your dentist and ask if they recommend using a water silk. Think of it as an investment.
Then spend the day with a proud smile and watch how it lifts your mood. Bonus Points: You can be the reason someone else is smiling today.
Ashton Graham is an educator, book publisher, photographer, cowgirl, and yoga enthusiast. She is currently studying yoga therapist and lives on a ranch in West Texas. visit www.ashtoncannon.com to learn more.
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