Pleasant breath, clean teeth and healthy gums all contribute to a beautiful smile. The mouth is where the digestion begins, so a healthy mouth should be able to chew food thoroughly for good digestion. Bad breath is usually a sign of poor digestion, which is why cleaning the teeth or using mouth gargles only relieves the problem temporarily.
To permanently eliminate bad breath, one should reconsider the eating habits or diet to find the source of the problem. Fasting for a day, and then adopting a light, easily digestible diet can eliminate this problem. Consuming aloe vera gel, or ginger and lemon juice, also helps improve digestion. Rinsing the mouth with a decoction of mint, or chewing parsley or basil leaves can improve breath.
Healthy teeth are white, evenly spaced, level and clean. Unhealthy teeth are discolored, uneven, and are present in greater or less than the normal number.
Teeth problems may occur due to poor diet or bad eating habits. Excessive tobacco, tea, coffee, sweet and sticky foods (sweets, chocolates, raisins) and very cold or hot food can lead to discoloration or decay.
Teeth should be cleaned twice daily, in the morning and evening. Ancient Ayurvedic texts advise the use of small twigs from particular trees for this purpose. Today, Ayurvedic tooth powders made from the same herbs can be substituted.
Rinsing and gargling after eating helps to remove food particles that may be stuck between teeth. Eating hard, crunchy fruits and vegetables (Apples, carrots) is good for the teeth. For discolored teeth, use some salt mixed with lime or lemon juice to brush the teeth. To ease toothache, apply a couple of drops of cinnamon or clove oil to the base of the aching tooth.
Healthy gums should be red, regular, compact and hard. Unhealthy gums are spongy, dark red or very pale and may bleed.
Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime), guavas or pomegranates should be included in the diet to ensure healthy gums as these fruits contain large quantities of vitamin C. Massaging the gums daily with a mixture of salt, black pepper, turmeric and sesame oil is also beneficial.
The tongue displays the internal condition of the digestive system. Ayurvedic doctors analyze the condition and coating on the tongue to determine physical disorders that may be present. A mucus like coating on the tongue demonstrates the presence of Ama (a toxic byproduct of poor digestion or improper eating habits).
Ayurvedic oral hygiene includes cleaning the teeth and tongue daily. Tongue cleaning is carried out with a specially designed metal tongue scraper. These are widely available in India and Asia, and may be available in health food stores in the West. The gentle use of a toothbrush can also be used as an alternative. This gentle scraping removes the sticky, white mucus lining of the tongue and improves breath as well as the sense of taste.