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Indybay Feature
Taking Care of Your Teeth Naturally
by kirsten anderberg (kirstena [at] resist.ca)
Friday May 12th, 2006 9:02 PM
“Modern” society is used to buying everything necessary for oral hygiene in prefabricated, mass-produced packaging. But people all over the world use natural toothbrushes made from plants which contain beneficial oils and properties, growing around them. The precursor to the modern toothbrush was a twig. This article will explore different ways to take care of your teeth and mouth naturally, without paying off a major corporation for those benefits.
Taking Care of Your Teeth Naturally
By Kirsten Anderberg (http://www.kirstenanderberg.com)

“Modern” society is used to buying everything necessary for oral hygiene in prefabricated, mass-produced packaging. But people all over the world use natural toothbrushes made from plants which contain beneficial oils and properties, growing around them. The precursor to the modern toothbrush was a twig. This article will explore different ways to take care of your teeth and mouth naturally, without paying off a major corporation for those benefits.

In the 1972 classic book, “The Tooth Trip,” by hippie dentist Thomas McGuire, D.D.S., the author speaks of three plants with “fairly good bristles,” which make good natural toothbrushes. The three plants are Marshmallow Roots, Alfalfa Roots, and Licorice Roots. To make marshmallow root toothbrushes, he suggests you cut 5” long pieces of the root (pick straight sections), and then unravel or peel the two ends, like untwisting a rope. You then boil them with a few cinnamon sticks to flavor and soften them. Once they are tender, remove them carefully from the boiling water and soak them for 24 hours in brandy to dry and strengthen them. Then the roots are died in a warm oven or warm room. Once they are dried, you can bundle them together and attach them to a handle or just use them with your fingers. To use root brushes, you need to soak them a few minutes in warm water to soften them before you can use them, but then you can add toothpowder or paste and brush just as you would with a nylon bristle brush.

To make alfalfa root toothbrushes, he says you can take alfalfa roots that are thick around in diameter, and then strip off the outer skin or bark. Then you dry them slowly at room temperature. When the roots are dry, cut them into 3-5” pieces. Then hit each end with a hammer to break up the fibers and form a brush. Beat it only enough to make bristles. Then you can fold the roots in half and bundle them. Remember to soak them in warm water before using.

And the last toothbrush he suggests from natural fibers is made from licorice root. He says this one is especially good for tender and delicate gums...Select straight roots and cut 3-5” pieces, then dry them by mild heat, then take off the outer layer of skin at each end. Fold the roots over and bind. The number of roots needed for a root brush varies with the size of the roots. Other plants/trees used for toothbrushes around the world include bay, eucalyptus, oak, neem, fir, and juniper.

In the wonderful book, “Living On The Earth,” by Alicia Bay Laurel, from the same era, 1971, there is an unusual “Eggplant Tooth Powder” recipe. It says to cut the insides of an eggplant into cubes, then wrap each cube in foil and put them into hot coals. After about 15 minutes, the eggplant will turn black and crumbly. If it turns white it is too done, throw it out. Take the black eggplant powder and mix with equal parts of sea salt. Store in jars. The book says, “Eggplant cures many gum diseases. Salt is also very good for the mouth.” Leslie Tierra, herbalist, also recommends a preparation of the ash of eggplant, which she says will cure "any toothache, pyorrhea, and other mouth and gum disorders."

Another tooth powder recipe follows:
Orange Tooth Powder: 2 T. dried lemon or orange rind, ¼ c. baking soda, 2 t. salt
Grind rinds in food processor then add salt and soda until fine powder. Pour in hand, rub wet brush in it and brush. You can make the powder into paste by adding ¼ t. hydrogen peroxide to1 t. orange tooth powder.

You can make herbal preparations to build the strength of your gums and teeth as well. You can make a Golden Seal and Myrrh Healing Powder: Mix equal parts of myrrh powder and golden seal powder and then brush teeth and gums with it. It tastes really icky and bitter, but it will help strengthen and heal your gums. You could use myrrh and golden seal infused in hot water as a mouthwash too. A hydrogen peroxide rinse, made from equal parts water and peroxide, swished in the mouth then spit out daily, helps with bleeding gums, mouth sores, etc.

Try making your own mouthwashes. You can make Rosemary-Mint Mouthwash by boiling 2 ½ cups water, then take it off the heat and add 1 t. fresh mint leaves, 1 t. rosemary leaves, 1 t. anise seeds, 1 t. tincture of myrrh (optional as preservative). Let the herbs sit in the water for 20 minutes. Cool, strain, then use. You can make a Clove mouthwash by boiling a pint of water with 3 T cloves, bruised or sliced, covered, for an hour. Then cool, strain and use. You can make teas out of any number of herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, lavender, or anise, and use that as an herbal mouthwash as well
Certain foods are known to help oral health. In the Source Family, we were told to eat the white parts inside the peel of oranges, and to eat lots of oranges and grapefruits after dental surgery. Citrus foods are hostile to many bacteria, and Vitamin C helps prevent infections. And you can drink the herb oatstraw in a tea to help strengthen your teeth from your insides.

Natural toothache remedies include the well-known use of clove to numb the area; you can soak gauze in the oil and put it in the area that is hurting. For sore or raw gums, and for teething babies, you can chew on a peeled piece of marshmallow root. With its mucilage, it soothes irritated gums. Canker sores supposedly calm down when an acidophilus mouth rinse is used. The Prickly Ash tree is also called “the toothache tree,” because chewing on its leaves is supposed to help toothaches. People have chewed on ginger root in the West Indies for toothaches. But in all reality, the best toothache remedy is prevention, before the fact.

In “The Tooth Trip,” the author speaks about the effects LSD, Peyote and Mescaline may have on teeth: “No known damage to the teeth or gums results from the moderate use of these drugs. One friend told me that while he was high on acid, he flashed that he was not properly caring for his body, and when he came down, he immediately began to increase his health care, including the care of his teeth. This may be an exception, and you certainly do not have to take acid to get your Tooth Trip together.”
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