Many people think oral health is just about brushing and flossing and dental checkups, but it’s much more than that. In fact, as a practitioner of holistic dentistry, Dr. Nancy Nehawandian sees the significant connections between your oral health and almost every aspect of your lifestyle.
But, really, can something like yoga help improve your oral health? Maybe. There aren’t any good studies that show the link, but there are several things we can point to that yoga could help you maintain good oral health.
Yoga Can Reduce Stress
One thing that many people consistently point to as a benefit of yoga is stress relief. It almost goes without saying that stress is bad for every aspect of your health, including your oral health.
One thing that stress can do to your teeth is contribute to clenching and grinding. Clenching and grinding your teeth can cause them to wear down, chip, and crack. It can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. It can also damage your temporomandibular joint and contribute to the development of TMJ dysfunction.
Stress also impacts your oral health because it impacts your lifestyle. Many people stress eat, and the foods they lean on for stress eating are bad for your teeth. They include fast food and sugary or starchy snacks. And the way you might snack all day can feed oral bacteria for prolonged periods of time, encouraging them to grow and increasing your risk of cavities.
Stress can also increase inflammation in your body. Gum disease and its impact on your health depend not just on the oral bacteria you have, but also on your body’s response to them. With stress, your body may have a more prolonged and severe response.
Yoga Can Stimulate Circulation
Your blood supplies your teeth and gums the same way it supplies the rest of your body. And oral health depends on a proper blood supply to the mouth.
Yoga can stimulate the flow of blood, which can make sure your teeth and gums are supplied with the resources they need to stay healthy.
It’s worth noting that the restriction of blood flow is one of the reasons why cigarettes are so bad for your oral health.
Yoga Can Stimulate Saliva Production
Okay, so this isn’t one of the most commonly cited benefits of yoga, but it can actually stimulate saliva. In fact, it’s sometimes recommended for the treatment of dry mouth (xerostomia).
Saliva is more than just liquid in your mouth. It performs three vital functions to maintain your oral health.
First, saliva helps neutralize the acid in food and that produced by oral bacteria. This helps protect your teeth against decay and erosion.
Second, saliva contains natural antibacterial agents, which makes it hard for oral bacteria to grow in your mouth. This can prevent them from developing large colonies and can protect you from cavities.
Finally, saliva has minerals in it that helps your teeth replenish minerals lost to erosion or decay. This can slow and even reduce the process of decay.
So if yoga can help improve your saliva flow, then it’s likely going to improve your oral health.
Oral Health Is a Lifestyle
As we mentioned above, holistic dentistry looks at how oral health can be affected by other aspects of your health, and the way that your lifestyle can dramatically impact your oral health. If you really want to maintain your teeth for life, it’s important to think about more than just brushing and flossing. You have to consider diet, exercise, and other aspects of your lifestyle.
If you are looking for a dentist who can help you create an oral health lifestyle in San Jose, please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with holistic dentist Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.