Saturday, April 6, 2013

Brush your teeth with roots!

I recently started seeing a new dentist and just had my initial appointment last week. 

He thoroughly looked at my digital x-rays, talked about my dental goals, looked in my mouth and basically did all those things that dentists tend to do. 

The bad news: I have some old fillings I need to replace and a back molar that is chipped which he said he would just file down a bit. 

The good news: He was really impressed with my dental health and remarked that my gums were especially healthy. 

Then came the big question. 

"So do you use a Sonicare toothbrush or a regular manual toothbrush?" 

Uh-oh. I was kind of hoping to avoid this. 

In the past I've had some negative interactions with dentists who weren't so keen on my alternative dental lifestyle so I was a bit nervous to respond. But, he did say he was impressed with my dental health, so I just went for it. 

"Actually, I don't use either." 

His head snapped around, definitely interested. "Well, what do you use?" 

"For the past year and a half I've mostly used a licorice root."

His eyes lit up and we continued to have a lively conversation about the merit of using roots and branches as toothbrushes. I even promised to bring him a licorice root so he can try it out himself. Needless to say I am very happy with the open attitude of my new dentist! 

And, since I've now used a licorice root for a long time with great results I thought I would share this simple toothbrush technique with all of you. 

Using Natural Toothbrushes
As I alluded to above, there are many different roots and branches that were traditionally used as toothbrushes. I've only used licorice roots (Glycyrrhiza glabra). 

Besides forming a great "brush" for cleaning the teeth, licorice root has also been shown to kill the bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. 

It also has a sweet taste that I personally find enjoyable. 

To use a licorice root as a toothbrush I first select the best-looking root. Over time you get an eye for this. I am basically looking for one that is not too thick and fairly straight without a lot of "branches". 

Then I simply chew on one end lightly until the outer root bark comes loose. I discard the root bark and continue to chew lightly. Pretty soon the root fibers will come loose and it will resemble a brush. Total chewing time is about one minute. 

Sometimes the roots are far too thick for this method and those I save for other uses. 

Once the root is properly prepared, I gently rub it over each tooth and gum line. 

Once I am done brushing, I cut off the part that has been used, and then continue with the same method the next time around. 

And for full disclosure on my dental health I also use this mouthwash 1-3 times per week, floss regularly, and I have a stellar diet that is high in nutrients and low in toxins (like sugar and processed foods). 

My dentist verified that licorice root toothbrushes are working well for my mouth. However, I can't guarantee that it will work as well for yours. Of course it's a good idea to get check ups to make sure. 

Licorice taken in high amounts can lead to increased blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or are susceptible to high blood pressure you may want to have your blood pressure monitored regularly to make sure this small amount of licorice isn't causing problems for you. 

Where to buy licorice root
I highly suggest buying your licorice root at Humboldt Herbals. You can also find them at Frontier and Starwest Botanicals