Oral hygiene is not a new concept by any means. In Ayurveda, swishing with herbalized sesame and/or coconut oil has been practiced for thousands of years. Neem twigs were frayed and used as toothbrush mechanisms – this is still a common practice all over Asia, and particularly in India. Fermented foods, like yogurt or lassi, were always eaten at the end of a meal as a natural probiotic to leave a healthy amount of good bacteria in the mouth.
As studies continue to reveal, the connection between our oral microbiota and our health may not be confined to the teeth and gums. There is plenty of evidence linking common undesirable mouth bacteria to a host of health concerns, including arterial, heart, lung, blood sugar and cognitive health. (5,6,8)
If that’s not enough to make you re-think your oral care routine, a new study has linked opportunistic mouth bacteria to esophageal health concerns. (1)
Pesticides (like glyphosate aka Roundup, which is now classified as a probable human carcinogen) have found their way into almost all non-organic foods, and have been shown to eradicate the good microbes that manufacture digestive enzymes in the mouth, esophagus and stomach – enzymes we need to properly digest foods like wheat, grains, legumes and dairy. (2-4)
Gearing our attention towards populating our mouths with beneficial bacteria may be one of the first things we should do to protect our health. After all, when we were born, creating healthy mouth bacteria was at the top of the list!
We Recommend3 Steps to a Healthy Mouth, Heart & Immunity
Our First Probiotic
In the first few hours after birth, Streptococcus salivarius successfully fully colonizes the mouth, esophagus and small intestines of an infant. (7) S. salivarius remains a major player in healthy mouth ecology for a lifetime, offering the body a host of protective benefits. It maintains a healthy balance of good bacteria in the mouth and upper digestive tract, supports healthy immunity, and maintains the balance and integrity of the so-very-important intestinal skin. (7)
Unfortunately, many children and adults lose healthy populations of S. salivarius. This could be due to alcohol-based mouthwashes, and other overly sterile oral health products. Re-populating the mouth or gut with beneficial bacteria has long been a challenge. Most of the probiotic products on the market today use transient bacteria strains, meaning they help if you take them regularly, but they do not adhere to the epithelium and become permanent residents.
I started using probiotics in my practice back in 1984 and quickly saw how they helped my patients, but just as quickly saw how they became reliant on them. Since then, I have been in search of probiotic strains that adhere to the intestines and colonize. This allows for permanent, beneficial microbial residents – so taking probiotics doesn’t become a lifetime sentence!
Professor John Tagg is a world-renowned microbiologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His battles with his own throat health as a young boy inspired him to find a natural and proactive way to support the respiratory health of children and adults alike.
He investigated the bacteria in the mouth of children, looking for the bacteria that could hold the key to the body’s first line of defense. He discovered a strain of S. salivarius, called S. salivarius DSM 13084. This specific strain was shown to re-populate the mouth and upper digestion with S. salivarius – the very first microbe we colonize as infants! (7)
Ayurvedic Oral Hygiene
For thousands of years, an important part of an Ayurvedic daily routine has been to wake up and start the day by scraping the tongue with a copper tongue scraper. Then, brush with a neem stick or neem toothpaste, followed by oil pulling.
There is ample science suggesting that these techniques may, in fact, support the proliferation of healthy mouth bacteria while warding off bad bacteria and supporting healthy gums, teeth, breath and overall wellness.