ORAL HEALTH An Ayurvedic approach

Dr Mandeep Kaur
Tradition of Ayurveda is alive today, with its knowledge being spread throughout the world. There are so many transformative practices to absorb from this 5,000 year old medicine, including how we can take our oral hygiene beyond simply brushing and flossing.
We hope these simple Ayurvedic practices help to keep your pearly whites, gums and mouth supported in between dental visits and that they also help you build a deeper connection with your commitment to self-care. According to Ayurveda, the physiology of a human being is governed by 3 doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha which are present within the mouth and perform different functions to maintain oral health. Bodhaka kapha moistens the mucus membranes and helps to prevent cavities by washing away bits of food and reduces the effects of acidic foods on teeth enamel. Kapha dosha is found within the teeth, as they are bones which are a part of our skeletal system. Vata dosha is found within the pores of teeth and required for the chewing and swallowing of food. Pitta dosha is present within the blood vessels which nourish and protect the gum tissue.
Chew a Neem Twig
Neem possesses anti-microbial properties. Chewing it releases its anti-bacterial agents which mix with saliva. This further kills the harmful microbes in the mouth and prevents the accumulation of bacteria on the teeth. Choose a twig which is as thick as your little finger. Peel its skin. Chew at one corner to make it like a brush and brush it all across the gums and teeth. After you’re done, spit the twig fibers stuck on the teeth.
Herbal Tooth and Gum Rub
A herbal tooth and gum rub involves rubbing of some selected herbs and spices. Some of these spices act as excellent enamel cleaners such as Garlic, rock salt, guava and mango leaves. Either of these can be ground and rubbed on the teeth or use a mixture of oil and salt to rub your teeth and gums. This strengthens the gums.
Oil Pulling
Swishing oil in the mouth is called oil pulling. This oral care practice has its roots in Ayurveda. Known in Sanskrit as Kavala Graha or Gandusha,which helps in the removal of microbes from the gums and teeth. It helps in alleviating mouth ulcers. It also exercises the muscles of the mouth, thereby strengthening and toning them. Use sesame, mint, cinnamon or coconut oil. Swish it in the mouth for 15-20 minutes and spit. It also reduces inflammation including that associated with TMJ, freshens the breadth and whitens the teeth.
Tongue cleaning
Bacteria and toxins accumulate on the tongue, which leads to bad breath. Cleaning the tongue removes the toxins and promotes fresh breath, enhances taste and oral health. Use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue. Traditionally, Ayurveda recommends using a Copper Tongue Cleaner because copper has natural antibacterial properties.
Herbal mouth rinse
A decoction of Triphala or Yashtimadhu serves as an excellent mouth rinser. The practice in addition to maintaining oral hygiene helps in alleviating mouth ulcers. Boil Triphala or Yashtimadhu in water till the water reduces to half. Allow it to cool. Rinse when it is lukewarm. Triphala with churna reduces plaque, gingivitis, improves the sense of taste and nourishes the entire oral cavity.
Dry mouth means, you are experiencing a deficiency in bodhaka kapha. Thus digestion is impaired, acidity can wreak havoc on your teeth enamel, plaque can more readily build and gum infections can occur and can lead to receding gums, infections, tooth decay and tooth loss. Ayurvedic practices to help restore bodhaka kapha is to reduce acidic beverages, breathe through your nose, not your mouth, avoid smoking and stay hydrated.
When we prioritize oral hygiene, we not only ensure that our oral cavity will remain healthy, but we ultimately commit to the goals of Ayurveda, giving us the confidence to go out into the world and let our best selves shine.
(The author is Assistant Professor Dept of Oral Pathology & Microbiology Indira Gandhi Govt Dental College, Jammu)