Teeth are the front line of the digestive system. It is essential to one’s overall well-being to maintain healthy teeth. Bad teeth affect chewing and become a burden on the body’s other digestive organs. Missing teeth can lead to gum recession and impact speech and looks.
According to Dr. Mark Breiner DDS, the quality of the teeth and gums is holistically connected to the body far more than just the health of an individual tooth. While traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has known that for centuries, Western dentistry is now starting to catch up.
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Dr. Breiner believes: “Heart disease, stroke, and other deadly diseases can begin in the mouth. Sometimes, periodontal disease is more than just bone loss. It is well documented that patients with periodontal disease have a higher risk of heart problems, stroke, premature birth, and more.”
Medical means to maintain healthy teeth
Modern-day treatments for gum disease and recession (periodontal disease) at the dentist can include laser treatment to stimulate new bone production, ozone therapy, and oral irrigation, while at-home treatments can include nutritional supplements and coconut oil pulling. Strong healthy teeth strengthen digestion, promote absorption, and lower the risk of dementia.
According to ancient Chinese wisdom, aching teeth and gums signal problems with the internal organs. TCM classifies toothaches into toothaches of the top teeth (upper toothaches) and toothaches of the bottom teeth (lower toothaches).
Upper toothaches are related to the stomach, and intestinal problems cause lower toothaches. Green bean soup can eliminate heat in the stomach, while banana is good for getting rid of intestinal heat. When both upper and lower teeth feel sore and painful, the teeth have problems, and the related organ is the kidney. Mulberry and kiwi are good to eliminate heat in the kidney.
In TCM, the kidney is considered in charge of bones, and teeth are the extensions of bones. To invigorate the kidney is to invigorate the bones and thus invigorate the teeth too. Black foods such as black beans, black sesame, black fungus, and black bone silkie fowl are good for bones. Frequent consumption can make the teeth strong.
Eat whole fruit and veg, don’t juice too much
Vegetables and fruit are often conveniently made into juice in modern diets. However, for healthy teeth, it is better to eat them rather than drink them.
Whether soft like peaches or crunchy like apples, biting and chewing different textures is a good exercise to strengthen the mastication muscles and joints. The other benefit is the dietary fiber that comes with eating whole fruit, which supports digestion and stops blood sugar from spiking.
Only frequent moving of joints can promote flexibility and good blood circulation to make the flow smooth. Of course, teeth also need to be exercised to keep them strong. But eating does that, right?
Exercising teeth by ‘clicking’
Sun Simiao, a well-known cultivator-doctor of the Tang Dynasty, often practiced sitting meditation exercises. Then, he would click his upper and lower teeth together with his mouth closed when he had finished. By doing this, he increased his saliva secretion.
Swallowing the secreted saliva a few times has a positive effect. Not to be confused with grinding the teeth (bruxism), this click-and-rinse process can make healthy teeth. The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic (Huangdi Neijing, 黃帝內經) likened saliva to a “spiritual fluid” that supported the body’s qi. Kidney qi is connected to saliva, which the ancients called “sweet jade.”
How long should the clicking go on for? Sun Simiao said: “By clicking the teeth 36 times after getting up, they will stay good even when you are old.” Therefore, if young people start the habit of teeth clicking now, they can still keep their teeth in good shape when they age.
Drinking more water and more frequently to relieve stickiness in the mouth and using floss and interdental brushes at least once daily to remove unreachable debris between teeth is also important to keep teeth clean from the inside out, thus leading to healthy teeth.