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Brush Your Teeth the Wise Woman Way

Monday, October 15, 2018 5:35 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Brush Your Teeth the Wise Woman Way
c. 2018, Susun Weed




One good habit that most of us have is brushing our teeth morning and night. And what a large selection of toothbrushes and toothpastes we have to choose from.


Every time I leave the dentist after my regular tooth cleaning, I am handed a new toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste. The message is clear: “Brush your teeth with toothpaste.”


Have you ever read the ingredients in toothpaste?  When I did, I realized that I would never consume most of the things I was brushing my teeth with. And I am consuming them if I used toothpaste, even if I don’t swallow. Artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, and essential oils are not on my dinner table, why was I putting them on my teeth, in my mouth?


I often asked myself what my ancestors would do instead what my modern culture does, but I don’t want the teeth of my ancestors, which weren’t actually healthy for very long – it was rare for someone of sixty or older to have any teeth left at all – so that line of inquiry seemed unproductive. Weston Price is famous for showing the beautiful teeth of people who don’t use toothpaste or toothbrushes (though chew sticks are common) and who have no white sugar or white flour nor any processed food of any kind their diet, leading some to believe that eliminating refined foods freed them from oral hygiene. As one dentist pointed out to me: “You don’t have the genetics of those indigenous people. Your ancestors have been living on white flour for generations. You need modern dentistry. You need to brush your teeth. And floss too!


Many indigenous people use special twigs as “chew sticks” for dental hygiene. They break a twig in half, splay and soften the broken end by chewing on it, then use the splayed end as a brush to remove plaque and invigorate the gums. All the better if the twig is from a tree with antibacterial properties, or an aromatic shrub.


In my area, the Northeastern part of North American, twigs of staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina) or twigs of cavity-fighting xylitol-rich sweet birch (Betula nigra) were used. Oak, dogwood, and maple twigs were used in other parts of the Native Americas. In India neem twigs are still used. Bedouins use antiseptic arak twigs. And in Africa, you can brush your teeth with a miswak twig, which is naturally high in anti-cavity fluoride.


Pine needles and pine twigs make excellent toothbrushes. In addition to removing debris and plaque, they kill bacteria, and freshen the breath. Aromatic shrubs with brushy leaves or twigs – like rosemary, tulsi, thyme, and lavender – and young aromatic tree twigs – like bay, cinnamon, and sassafras – counter bacterial growth in the mouth and scent the breath.


Modern teeth are brushed with non-electric ionic toothbrushes which attract plaque off the teeth and with electric toothbrushes which do a much better job than even the best manual brushing.


It isn’t really the toothbrush that bothers me though; it is the toothpaste (and mouthwash) I have an issue with. If I don’t use a naturally antibacterial chew stick, but a toothbrush, what could I put on it to help my teeth stay healthy?


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