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What was the ancient way of preserving oral health? Here are the Must Know Ayurvedic tricks which our grandparents used to keep their mouth healthy.
Our great parents lived in surroundings where there was plenty of pristine nature around them. They were well acquainted with medicinal herbs and barks, and knew well to use them. The earliest and the easiest available toothbrushes were the twigs of herbal trees. Yet another type of toothbrush was the leaf of mango tree. Needless to mention that the incidence of dental woes was less common among them.
What does Ayurveda recommend for oral health?
Ayurveda identifies around 65 types of oral diseases. In order to prevent oral diseases and maintain a healthy oral mucosa and teeth, Ayurveda recommends the use these four therapeutic procedures:
- Danta Dhavana (Brushing)
- Jihva lekhana (Tongue scrapping)
- Gandoosha (gargling) or oil pulling
Herbal Brushing of Teeth
The primary recommendation is to chew herbal sticks in the morning as well as after every meal to prevent diseases.
Ayurveda insists on the use of herbal brushes which are approximately nine inches long with a thickness of the little finger and breadth of 12 fingers. These herb sticks should have either of these properties – “kashaya” (astringent), “katu” (acrid) or “tikta” (bitter) in taste.
The natural Ayurvedic “tooth brushes” include:
- Neem (Margosa or Azadirachta indica) is a popular herbal chewing stick with its bitter properties.
- Fresh stems of liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
- Black catechu (Acacia Catechu Linn)
- Arjuna (Termmalia Arjuna)
- Calotropis plant
Chewing on these stems is believed to cause attrition and leveling of the biting surfaces and facilitate salivary secretion. Some of these herbal tooth brushes can also help to control plaque due to their anti-bacterial action.
During my school days, I used to frequent an uncle of mine. While I lived in one of the bland crowded cities of Kerala, my uncle’s house enjoyed a small compounded abundantly nurtured by trees and shrubs. During one of those visits, I had forgotten to carry my toiletries. Without hesitation, my aunt handed over a couple of leaves and asked me to brush my teeth with them. Surprised, I asked her what they were. She pointed to one of the stout trees in their compound and told me that they were mango leaves.
Mango leaves contain a chemical substance called ‘mangiferin'. It has significant antibacterial properties, which can fight the cavity-forming bacteria in the mouth. Mango leaves also make an excellent herbal mouth wash for gum problems and help reduce pain. When you brush with mango leaves, you may consume unknowingly consume their extracts which can also be beneficial. Mango leaves have properties to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and more.
Ayurveda strictly maintains that those suffering from conditions like indigestion, vomiting, dyspnoea, cough, fever, facial aralysis, ulceration of the mouth, diseases of the heart, eyes, head and ears should not make use of these tooth brushes.
The Ayurvedic Tongue Scraping
An Ayurvedic physician looks at your tongue to understand your general health. The coating on your tongue indicates your digestive health. And ama build up is considered as the reason for various diseases in Ayurveda. When you wake up in the morning you find that your tongue is coated with a layer of ama or toxins. Tongue scraping or cleaning helps to remove this coating/build up of ama and promotes oral health. It aids in stimulating the tongue and removes the harmful properties of Kapha.
To clean tongue, a hard but flexible branch of neem which can be bent, is advised.
Gandusha (The Ayurvedic/therapeutic holding of different kinds of liquids in mouth)
Gandusha refers to filling of the mouth with liquids fully without permitting any movement inside. It is said that one should hold the liquid in the mouth until water starts coming from the eyes/nose.
Fats like oil and ghee, milk, honey, water are some liquids which can be held in the mouth. For daily use, either oil is advised.
Holding honey in the mouth helps to remove the sliminess of the mouth, promotes the healing of the ulcers, and relieves burning sensation and thirst. For removing dryness of the mouth, dhanyamla (water used for washing the grains) is beneficial. Holding luke warm water helps the lightness of the mouth.
Kavala (Gargling of the Mouth the Ayurvedic Way)
Kavala refers to holding liquids in the mouth and allowing their movement.
Ayurveda stress the importance of gargling with these formulations:
- Saptachadadi kashayam: Useful in oral ulcers.
- Khadiradi vati: Helpful in acidity and oral ulcers.
- Arimedadi tailam: Treats hypersensitivity of teeth and chronic gingivitis.
The duration of Gandoosha and Kavala may vary from dosha to dosha and also according to the medical condition.
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