by Lauren Swanger, holistic health enthusiast and research journalist
Smile. What do you see?
Good oral and dental care is essential for optimal health. Regular visits to your dentist as well as twice daily flossing will help keep your smile bright and your heart healthy. Wait… what?! Endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner lining of your heart) can occur when bacteria and other germs from another part of your body, such as the mouth, get into the bloodstream and attach themselves to damaged areas in your heart. A healthy mouth contains an abundance of bacteria, most of them harmless. Consistent oral health care and the body’s own defenses ensure that these bacteria don’t cause any trouble. Saliva washes away food and helps neutralize the acids produced by the bacteria.
Certain medications can reduce saliva flow and compromise your mouth’s bacterial fighting abilities. Many people make using a mouthwash each day part of their oral health, to combat bad breath. But, most over the counter mouthwashes contain dangerous chemicals which make them extremely hazardous, if fighting halitosis is the reason for their use. Phenol, cresol, and ethanol that are used in disinfectants, are also used in lower concentrations in mouthwash. That also includes formaldehyde and ammonia.
If you brush your teeth and floss between your teeth twice daily, you should have no need for mouthwash. But, if your regular routine would seem lacking without it, try a natural mouthwash. As a disinfectant mouthwash, mix one cup of water with 2 tablespoons of natural apple cider vinegar. Use this mixture as you would any other mouthwash. This mixture works as an antiseptic which breaks down plaque and neutralizes the bacteria that causes bad breath. A good antifungal and antibacterial mouthwash uses one half cup of water, 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 2 drops of tea tree oil, and 2 drops of peppermint essential oil. Store in a mason jar and shake the solution before each use.