From the Magazine

5 Natural Tips for Brighter Teeth and Healthier Gums

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We know that dental health is key for overall health, and new findings make it more important than ever: UCLA researchers report curing gum disease decreases dementia risk by as much as 39 percent. Here, the natural solutions that combat disease-causing oral bacteria.

Floss with water.

Flossing dislodges debris between teeth to prevent 38 percent of the bleeding gums that allow disease-causing bacteria into the bloodstream. If you’re one of the 60 percent of Americans who avoid floss, consider a water flosser. Studies show the devices are 33 percent more effective at eliminating bleeding than string floss.

Dry brush.

Using a dry toothbrush cuts plaque buildup by 63 percent and reduces gum bleeding by 55 percent, according to one study. To do: Use a dry brush for one minute, then brush with toothpaste for another minute.

Pick a better paste.

Many brands of toothpaste on drugstore shelves contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a surface cleaner that inhibits saliva production. That’s a problem since lack of saliva can make the mouth a breeding ground for the bacteria that increase disease risk. Instead, optfor a paste made with xylitol, a sweetener that enhances saliva production and has been shown to decrease the risk of tooth decay by 60 percent. One to try: Schmidt’s Activated Charcoal paste ($4.97, Walmart).

Swish with this. 

Commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, which allows bad-acting bacteria to thrive. A better bet: swishing with a DIY rinse made from 3 Tbsp. of food-grade aloe vera juice, 3 Tbsp. of water, and a drop of peppermint oil. One study found that an aloe rinse reduces plaque and boosts gum health as effectively as drugstore mouthwash — without the harsh ingredients.

Enjoy this healthy treat.

Enjoying a cup of fresh or frozen pineapple daily eases gum bleeding in as little as 30 days. Credit goes to bromelain, an enzyme that helps heal gum tissues.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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