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    Brush Up Naturally


    WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

    By Ellen Strum

    Country Living Magazine Find out how herbal and natural ingredients can refresh your mouth-care routine

    Walk down the mouth-care aisle, and you'll find several products that tout being natural or herbal. In fact, Americans spent $386,000,000 on natural oral hygiene products in 2002, up nearly 15 percent from 2001, according to Nutrition Business magazine. About nine percent of Americans choose natural oral hygiene products over the non-natural commercial ones.

    According to Dr. Earl Mindell, a registered pharmacist, master herbalist, and author of The Herb Bible , this rise is due to more people reading product labels and becoming concerned that man-made ingredients could be harmful. "Since World War II, 60,000 chemicals have been added to the environment, and only 10 percent have been tested, so we don't know what effect many of them have on people," notes Dr. Mindell. He says many people are concerned about sodium fluoride—which is used in pesticides—being added to toothpaste.

    Herbal and natural remedies are nothing new. Written records show that the Egyptians used essential oils as medicine in 1400 B.C. David Wolfe, author of Eating for Beauty , claims they usually have no side effects and are often more effective than chemicals; for example, the essential oils of mint, wintergreen, hemp, and eucalyptus have antibiotic properties, so they are great for cleaning the teeth and freshening the breath.

    According to Gayle Engels, education coordinator at the American Botanical Council, herbs and natural ingredients often are chosen because they have been used traditionally, as well as for what is known about their chemical constituents and how they work. Richard Austin, who founded Kingfisher Natural Toothpaste in 1988, adds that people also seek out natural toothpastes because of what is left out, such as artificial sweeteners, coloring, preservatives, and fluoride.

    Many herbs have not had clinical studies done on them in relation to oral hygiene, so they are not endorsed by the American Dental Association. As with all herbal supplements, which are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, consumers should be aware of possible side effects, such as interactions with medications, or allergic reactions; be sure to notify your dental hygienist or dentist, as well your other health care professionals, if you decide to use herbal products.

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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