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Oral Hygiene: Starting Healthy Habits Early

A USA Today feature focused on the challenges parents face when promoting oral hygiene but some of their recommendations were extremely suspect. The premise of their story was reasonable. Oral hygiene is important for more than just cosmetic reasons and it is crucial to impart healthy habits in children at a young age.

There is no doubt that bad breath and stained teeth are repellent, no matter your age but their report missed one salient issue. They focused on frequent visits to allopathic dentists, and colorful plastic toothbrushes but failed to mention the dangers of toxic toothpaste

Over the course of a lifetime, the average American uses about 20 gallons of toothpaste. The chemicals in toothpaste can make their way into your bloodstream. It is particularly important to make sure children are not exposed to these dangers. Promoting oral hygiene in children can test the patience of parents. Just make sure you are promoting healthy dental care and not ritualizing the ingestion of questionable toothpaste ingredients.

Do not be duped into purchasing slickly marketed and packaged fluoridated toothpaste.  These toxic toothpastes generally contain fluoride and some brands even contain the endocrine disrupter triclosan.  It can promote a wide variety of health problems, including genital malformations, breast, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancer, preterm and low birth weight babies, precocious puberty in girls, and undescended testicles in boys. Diethanolamine is another hormone disrupter found in many types of toothpaste.

There are other highly suspect ingredients in mass market toothpastes. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are added in order to make them more palatable to children. Propylene glycol, the same chemical used in antifreeze, appears in many brands as well.  Some types of toothpastes contain microbeads. These make their way into the environment and absorb toxins from the water. Ultimately, they are eaten by a wide variety of marine life and by humans as well. 

Oral hygiene affects much more than just your smile and avoiding toxic toothpaste is crucial. The good news is that there is a safe and time tested alternative available. Oil pulling dates back nearly 3,000 years. Before modern medicine, elders in India developed Ayurveda, a form of mind-body health system. The basic tenet of Ayurveda is that when balanced, your body has amazing powers to heal itself.

One of the practices of Ayurveda is oil pulling, or the act of swishing and rinsing your mouth with oil. Oil pulling has been used in traditional Indian folk remedies to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, bleeding gums and to strengthen your teeth and gums
Oil pulling is an effective mechanical method of cleansing your teeth and the smallest crevices along your molars that the bristles of your brush cannot reach. In the past, popular oils for pulling were sesame and sunflower oils. However, those are high in omega-6 fats, which you likely get enough of each day. Cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil is my oil of choice.
 
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