Our mouths can tell us so much about our overall health. If your mouth isn’t as healthy as it could be, chances are your health won’t be, either.
Dr Lewis Ehrlich, dentist, health coach and PT says, “our oral health and general health are intimately linked and there are many things we typically wouldn’t think could be impacting it” - like these, for starters...
1. If we don’t breathe correctly we could be susceptible to tooth grinding and sleep apnea
The mouth is the start of the respiratory system, therefore the shape of your upper and lower jaw, the position of the tongue and way the muscles around the lips and cheeks work affects the quality of your breathing and sleeping.
For optimal health and to reduce the chance of grinding our teeth and sleep apnea, we should be breathing through our noses. You can train yourself to do this through breathing exercises and yoga.
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2. Eat nutrient rich, natural foods
This means a diet rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins allow you to uptake nutrients that are vital for strong teeth and jaw bones.
This is very important during all phases of life but particularly during pre-conception (exercise caution with Vit A during pregnancy – consult your GP). Missing out on these vitamins can affect the shape and size of your child’s jaws.
A small, narrow jaw will predispose your child to mouth breathing which can lead to stuffy noses, throat infections and tooth crowding.
3. Eating the wrong foods won’t allow your teeth and jaw to work and develop as nature intended it to
We should be eating chewy, hard and healthy foods as this will help to stimulate healthy saliva, which neutralises acid and keeps your teeth strong.
4. Drinking too much sparkling mineral water is a common cause of tooth decay
Increase your water intake and replace soft drinks, energy drinks and fruit juice with still, clean water over sparkling water as sparkling water is very acidic.
5. Mouth breathing
Doing this at at night leaves your more susceptible to snoring, sleep apnea, respiratory infections, tonsillitis, tooth crowding and decay (via drying out your saliva). For optimal health, your tongue should be at the roof of your mouth and you should breathe through your nose.
6. Constant irritation in our sinuses and tonsils during sleep
This can cause bad breathing habits and can cause the same issues as mouth breathing. To avoid this I recommend vacuuming your bed once a week with a HEPA filter vacuum and put a dust mite cover over your mattress.
7. A bad sleep routine
...can cause bad sleep hygiene. Sleep is the most important part of the day and we should be getting to bed before 10:30pm, avoid blue light from smart phones and other devices at least 2 hours before bed and avoid filling up on warm fluids bed as this will make it more likely to get up during the night and interrupt your sleep.
8. We underestimate how important flossing is
Don’t just brush your teeth, floss as well! Many people don’t floss and don’t know how to do it well. We need to take the floss underneath the gums, not just between the teeth. It is the bacteria that live underneath the gums that cause the most inflammation and damage to our health.
9. Inflammation and plaque underneath the gums will increase the chance of tooth decay
To avoid this, I recommend you try oil pulling - pop a tea spoon of coconut oil in the mouth and swish it around the mouth for 15 mins. This is best done first thing in the morning. The fat in the oil ‘pulls’ plaque from underneath the gums.
It can help to reduce gum inflammation, decrease your chance of decay, fights against bad breath and it is also a good natural alternative for tooth whitening.
10. Exercise for oral health
In the same way that exercise is good for your heart, it is also good for your gums. There is some early research starting to emerge that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can decrease gingivitis. Hey, it's worth a try, right?
Dr Lewis Ehrlich
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