- Evelyn is struggling with digestive issues as well as dental infections, tooth sensitivity and chronic bad breath.
- She brushed and flossed regularly, saw the dentist regularly, and tried all of the oral health products her dentist recommended
- She even tried natural toothpaste but nothing helped her teeth sensitivity or bad breath.
After meeting Evelyn and learning about her challenges and health history, I knew there had to be other pieces to this puzzle! I suspected that we needed to investigate a few more areas of her oral care and her nutrition.
Understanding the Vital Importance of Oral Health
Our mouths are so important to our overall health and often we disregard it. Youn Chang is the founder and CEO of OJOOK, an oral care company with a mission to help people develop mindful rituals that create harmony between the mind, body, and the environment. The concept for the business comes from her Korean heritage where mouth health and spine health are considered the key to vitality.
Philosophically and scientifically, her culture recognizes that the mouth is the gateway for all nourishment to enter the body, it’s where digestion starts (with chewing), and is also the first of two microbiomes (the other being the gut) that dictate good health. From this perspective, it’s easy to see why oral health is vital to overall good health.
She also shared in this episode that many of the dentists she works with will tell patients to seek medical help when they see things like sores, dry mouth, or other mouth issues because these are often the first signs of deteriorating health.
Oral Health is More than Healthy Teeth
We tend to think of oral health as keeping our teeth clean and cavity-free. We focus on going to the dentist and routinely brushing and flossing our teeth. But, Youn points out that the mouth is so much more than just a place for our teeth. Our gums and the inner mouth lining tissue are membranes similar to our armpits and sexual organs. It’s a lot more absorbent than our regular skin so we need to be very aware of what we expose it to. When we put things in our mouth that contain chemicals, it is basically an expressway to the bloodstream.
Many conventional toothpastes contain chemicals, color dyes, SLAs, preservatives, endocrine disruptors, sweeteners, synthetic flavors, and even alcohol so we have to be careful what we put in our mouths.
Cautions Around Conventional Toothpaste
Youn says the problem with conventional toothpastes is that they focus on cleaning. Our approach to dental care is all about scrubbing our teeth clean (I’m still working on not over brushing!) and sanitizing our mouths. She says that this approach focuses too much on preventing issues that could be caused by bad microbiomes and bad bacteria or food particles, but it doesn’t really think of what could happen from over cleaning and over irritating the mouth as an organ. She says the mouth environment has a very delicate balance.
All too often, the focus is on killing the bacteria (which we know from our understanding of the gut) doesn’t allow for that healthy balance.
She uses a great analogy in this interview comparing how we treat the cleaning of our teeth to how we approach our skincare.
The Problem with Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
There has long been a debate about the use of fluoride and it’s impact on overall health. Youn’s toothpase does not have flouride but she, and the dentist advisors at her organization, don’t discount the value of fluoride for dental health. However, she points out that anyone with a thyroid problem, autoimmune disease or fluorosis should consider the impact of fluoride on their health.
If someone is looking to avoid fluoride for health reasons, they have to be careful with fluoride-free toothpastes because these can leave the enamel of the teeth vulnerable and unprotected. This is why they include a fluoride alternative in their toothpaste formulation.
What is Nano-Hydroxyapatite in Toothpaste
Our teeth are made up of 90% Hydroxyapatite. This is what forms the enamel. Nano-hydroxyapatite (nHA) is the same but broken down into nanoparticles so that when you brush with it, it’s easier for these particles to adhere to the teeth. This is how the toothpaste is able to remineralize teeth, protect them from decay, and even reduce sensitivity to cold, heat, or certain foods.
Youn says that this new layer of hydroxyapatite also makes the teeth stronger and helps them appear whiter and brighter.
She does caution that you want to make sure there is enough nHA in the toothpaste or it won’t do the job. Also, she says to be aware of the use of non-nano hydroxyapatite because the particle are too big to settle into the small holes in the enamel which is how nHA works to remineralize teeth. In addition, the larger particles can be abrasive to the teeth.
Toothpaste Choices for Dry Mouth
Many people experience dry mouth but especially those with thyroid issues, pregnant women, cancer patients, and the elderly. Certain medications can also clause the mouth to be dry. This becomes an issue if those with a dry mouth are using regular, fluoride toothpaste because saliva is how fluoride is activated.
Salive is also important to protect and neutralize the acid in your mouth and create a healthy mouth pH.
This is why OJOOK also has sea salt in it’s formula. The salt stimulates the saliva. However, it is not just regular salt which could be abrasive on the teeth and tissue of the mouth. They process the salt using bamboo which refines it and add a natural but mild anti-inflammatory element. And, it does this without harming the mouth’s microbiome balance.
She also cautions against charcoal for toothcare as it is also abrasive and can impact the mouth pH levels.
Balancing the Mouth’s pH
The mouth should have a pH of seven which is fairly neutral.
This balance can be affected by eating too frequently, including consuming coffee, carbonated water lemon water, vinegar water and other things that are consumed for the health benefits. One of the interesting things that Youn shared is the negative effect of consuming these types of drinks slowly over time. It doesn’t give the mouth time to reset it’s pH.
Sugar and the frequency of having sugar in the mouth can also affect the mouth microbiome since bacteria grow quickly in a sugary environment which can produce acid as a byproduct.
A slightly alkaline toothpaste can be helpful but lifestyle (like frequency of snacking or consumption of acidic foods) can also impact the balance of the mouth environment.
Turning Routine into Ritual
Youn is passionate about creating rituals around oral health. Because we are in the habit of cleaning our teeth first thing in the morning and right before we go to bed, this opens up an opportunity to make this routine more intentional. She points to the science around how our first and last thoughts of the day can transform our mindset. By using the teeth-brushing time to be more mindful, we can shift the way that we are in the world. This is one of her passions.
Evelyn and I needed to address her issues from a whole body perspective. Because she’d been using conventional oral care products containing alcohol and other toxins for so long, we needed to support her microbiome and her liver.
First I needed to find out what was really going on so I ran a GI map test (a stool test) and discovered dysbiosis and saw the pattern for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).
We addressed these with a gut cleanse using Interfase by Klaire Labs that supports the breaking down of biofilms which are kind of like plaque on your teeth but on your intestines. This is important to do because many of the bugs that cause bad breath live here.
To support her kidney and liver health, we also detoxed using KL Support by CellCore.
All of this really helped with her breath.
Often breath issue can come from the gut not from the mouth. However, we often treat the area easiest to identify. Evelyn was doing this by using natural toothpaste. This toothpaste had herbs but it didn’t have any ingredients to help prevent decay or clean the teeth.
I recommended she try OJOOK and, like myself and many others, she noticed much less sensitivity and better mineralization. And, at her next dental visit, there were no new cavities and interestingly, a lot less plaque too! She was thrilled!
If you’d like to try OJOOK for yourself, you can use this link to get a free ‘Intention Toothbrush’ at checkout.
Eliminating Health Mysteries
For Evelyn we were able to find that missing piece of the health puzzle and help her regain her health. Could this be the missing clue for you or someone in your life?
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