Or, Why I Love My Dental Hygienist.
I’ve been a bad girl. I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in about 3 years. Yes, I know. Bad! So I made an appointment and went in today to see the hygienist.
[See also: a review of three natural toothpaste alternatives]
Good news, bad news. No cavities (I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m 32 and have never had a filling.), but my gums are looking really rough. I need a full mouth debridement and had to make an appointment to come back. The hygienist first wants me to toughen up my gums with hot salt water rinses. She said the debridement would be painful.
When I walked in and saw that she sat on an exercise ball chair, I was pretty impressed. So I asked her about it, and we started talking about abs, moms, exercise, yoga, and other stuff. She seemed like a pretty hip and open-minded kind of person for someone in the dental/medical field.
When she looked at my mouth she asked me if I used any oral hygiene products with Sodium Laurel Sulfate. She proceeded to educate me on the evils of SLS. Of course, she was preaching to the choir! I don’t use products with SLS.
She told me to double check everything in my house, even stuff I use on my skin, and get rid of anything with SLS. I’ll do this but I highly doubt anything exists. The fact she even brought it up impressed me. She said that SLS is highly irritating and could cause mouth sores (which I have had lately).
No More Cinnamon in my Homemade Tooth Powder!
She asked me some questions like, “What kind of toothpaste do I use?” I told her that I make my own homemade tooth powder. (I do this because glycerin isn’t good for teeth, it prevents re-mineralization and shouldn’t be used in toothpaste but is nevertheless ubiquitous which is really annoying! The only toothpaste I’ve found without glycerin is EarthPaste, which I buy for the kids.)
She told me that the baking soda was good, but to leave mouth washes like Listerine or any other alone, they were mostly overkill and could cause more problems.
She asked me what was in my tooth powder, and I told her. “Sea salt, baking soda….”
She asked, “It doesn’t have any peroxide in it does it?”
I said, “No.” I know that peroxide isn’t particularly good for the teeth – at least not for every day usage.
She asked if I ate a lot of cinnamon. Uh-Oh!
I had been putting cinnamon in my tooth powder, because my 7 year old son doesn’t like how “salty” the plain salt/baking soda mix is.
Apparently my mouth doesn’t like cinnamon!
The Trouble with Cinnamon in Homemade Tooth Powder
She told me at length about the recent findings around the “female mouth” and how little we know about it (apparently it’s quite different from the male mouth? who knew?), but how we are learning that many people react badly to cinnamon in their mucus membranes. Cinnamon can lead to the exact problems I was having with my gums.
She encouraged me to do some research on my own (impressive – how often do medical/dental types encourage that kind of rebellious behavior – doing your own research?) and cut down on the cinnamon to see if it helps.
Ok. No more cinnamon in my homemade toothpaste!
So I did some research and was surprised to find some of the following about my beloved spice:
This pdf of the JADA (sorry, the link is no longer valid but you may be able to locate it in Google). JADA is the Journal of the American Dental Association. It says that cinnamon can sensitize and irritate the mouth and is highly caustic.
This site mentioned how cinnamon irritates mucus membranes (and the mouth is a mucus membrane). And this one says that cinnamon leads to inflammation in the mouth – interestingly, it also kills bacteria – but apparently for some, it’s a too much.
So apparently cinnamon, while really good for your health, isn’t so good when applied directly to your gums.
This Hygienist spent more time talking with me about how the “mouth is the window of the body” and “tells you what’s going on before the rest of the body does” than any dentist ever has.
(Update: after writing this post I discovered OraWellness blend, a toothpaste alternative with organic oils. I love it.)