Oral health is considered to be an integral part of general well-being and is related to the quality of life and in turn, reflects the body health. Hence, one has to maintain oral hygiene to prevent oral diseases. Oral hygiene can be maintained by developing a habit to clean mouth and teeth regularly. Brushing of teeth, dental floss, toothpicks, gargling are main techniques in modern science.
On the other hand, Ayurveda is considered to be the best alternative to prevent oral diseases and maintain oral hygiene. One of the most important causes of dental diseases is bacterial infections. Ayurvedic treatments have produced evidence to prove antibacterial activity against microorganisms, including bacteria that are responsible for periodontitis and dental caries.
The cost of Ayurveda is much lower compared to modern science. Ayurveda recommends the use of herbal brushes, i.e. chewing sticks (Dattuna). It is a good alternative to the toothbrush and it helps in preventing oro-dental diseases. As per Ayurveda, hygiene of oral cavity is important as the digestion of the food ingested begins in the mouth itself. The different components of the oral cavity are the Oshtha (Lips), Dantamoola (gingiva and structures supporting tooth), Danta (teeth), Jihva (tongue), Talu (palate), Kantha (throat) and Sarvasara (oral mucosa).
Let us now discuss how to maintain your oral hygiene the Ayurvedic way
Chewing Sticks (Dattuna): Brushing of teeth is important to remove the dental plaque and tartar from teeth which prevent gum disease, cavities, and gingivitis. Ayurveda insists on Dattuna which has to be done in morning and also after each meal to prevent oral diseases. The chewing sticks should be taken from fresh plants of Neem, Yastimadhu, Arjuna tree, Vata, Vijaysara, etc. The stems used as Dattuna should be soft, without leaves and any knots. After chewing the stick, the stick can be used as tongue scraper by tearing it into two parts. The length of the Dattuna should be 9 inches and the thickness should be equal to the little finger. The taste of the sticks could be either pungent, bitter or astringent.
Tongue Scrapping (Jivha nirlekhana): Tongue scrapping is advised to do after brushing of teeth. It is done using metal scrapper from the root towards the tip of the tongue. The margin of the scraper should be blunt so that it does not damage your tongue.
Ayurveda suggests a specific type of metal scrappers as per your body type:
- If your body type is pitta, then use a silver tongue scraper.
- If your body type is vata, then use a golden tongue scrapper.
- If your body type is kapha, then use a copper tongue scraper.
Regular use of tongue scrappers is beneficial in preventing anaerobic bacteria and also decreases bad odor.
Teeth and Gums Massaging (Pratisarana): Teeth and gums are massaged with use of powder or paste of herbs or even by honey/oil with herbal powder. You can do this by rubbing the powder gently with fingers on gums and teeth. The powder could be a mixture of Triphala, Trikatu and Trijata with honey. The benefit of massage is that it removes food debris and also plaque and thus helpful for dental and oral hygiene. According to Acharya Sushruta, Dattuna dipped in honey, Trikatu, Trivargha, Saindhavlavana, and oil can be used as a paste for massaging. A recent research has shown that applying a paste of turmeric, salt with mustard oil will provide relief from periodontitis and gingivitis. You can use this paste to rub and massage teeth and gums twice daily for beneficial results (Cikrikci et al, 2008).
Oil Pulling (Kavala and Gandoosha): Oil pulling is a procedure that involves swishing oil in the mouth for benefit of oral hygiene. The role of oil pulling is to prevent oral malodor, decay, bleeding gums, dryness of throat, better taste, cracked lips, and also for strengthening of teeth, gums, and jaw. You can use sunflower or sesame oil for this procedure. Gandoosha procedure is to fill the oral cavity completely with the liquid and should be held for some time until there are lacrimation and nasal discharge and then you can spit out the liquid. This process can take up to 5 minutes. Whereas, in Kavala Graha, only three-fourths of mouth is retained with the liquid for a specific period of time (around 3 minutes), gargled and then spit out. It has also been stated that Kavala and Gandoosha protect the oral cavity from inflammation and infection due to its antioxidant property. This is attributed to the mode of action for probable reduction of plaque scores and also colony count of microorganisms in the oral cavity. The viscosity of the oil inhibits the bacterial adhesion and plaque co-aggregation (Ahuja et al, 2014).
This article will thus enable you to maintain your oral hygiene more efficiently the Ayurvedic way.
- Ahuja, DK. et. al. (2014) Concept of oral hygiene in Ayurveda. International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine, 5(2): 148-153.
- Cikrikci, S, Mozioglu, E., and Yilmaz, H. (2008) Biological activity of curcuminoids isolated from Curcuma longa. Rec Nat Prod., 2: 19-24.
- Garg, G., Dr. Mangal, G., and Chundawat, NS. (2016) Ayurvedic approach in oral health and hygiene: A review. International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research, 4(5): 17-21.
- Singh, A. and Purohit, B. (2011) Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health. Journal of Ayurveda & Integrative Medicine, 2(2): 64-68.