An article published by a leading magazine two years ago had a glaring headline — 90% of Indians don’t care about their oral health. This World Health Day (April 7), let’s try and do better!
Have a toothache in the middle of the night, and have nowhere to go? Fret not! Ingredients as basic as pepper, garlic, honey or cloves found in your kitchen shelves could come to your rescue, and provide instant relief from the teething pain. All you need to do is to keep the pepper (solid, not crushed) or clove in between the jaw and wait for some time for the pain to subside. Apart from these remedies, there is also, believe it or not, Yoga to keep dental problems away. In a minute, you will know how.
While you would be very well verse about the health benefits of adopting yoga in your daily regime, not many would have come across the effective role it can play in alleviating dental problems. The benefits of yoga go far beyond improving flexibility and balance of the body — yoga can aid dental health as well.
The therapeutic and stress-relief benefits of Yoga are not hidden from anyone. But what does stress have to do with dental health?
Studies have shown that people who are stressed are less likely to give their teeth and gums the proper oral care it deserves. A symptom that can be found in individuals treating for mental health diseases is a tendency to grind their teeth which can over time weaken the frontal teeth resulting in sensitivity to heat and cold. It could even lead to headache and aching jaws due to overworked jaw muscles; and jaw impairment.
Some exercises such as ‘Sukshma Yoga’ and ‘Sheektkari Pranayam’ could be done on a daily basis to prevent that much-feared visit to the dentist.
Mentioned below are some Yoga exercises and tips to aid in overall dental health:
1. Sukshma Yoga for Oral Care: Alternately open and close the jaws. Also, massage the lower jaw while doing this. Massaging helps in releasing the stress around the angle of the jaw, and relieves pain. Also sideways motion of the lower jaw has the same effect.
2. Movement of Tongue: Touching your tongue to the mid-palate and making the sound ‘tah,tah,tah’ promotes oral health. It improves speech, pronunciation, and brings mind to the present moment. It is also considered good for curing stammering.
3. Sheetkari Pranayam: is another effective exercise. ‘Sheetkari’ as the name suggests is a cooling pranayama. It is considered good for the health of the gums, and is effective for dental diseases such as pyorrhea. Follow the below directions when doing it:
o Sit comfortably, close your eyes and try to touch the tongue upward
o Join the upper and lower row of teeth
o Now open your lips and start inhaling with making the sound ‘See-See’
o After inhaling close your lips and breathe out through the nose
o Repeat this at least for 8 to 10 times
4. Khechari Mudra– is considered to be an effective way to get the salivary glands activated. The process involves drawing the tip of the tongue along the roof of the mouth toward the back of the nostrils to the upper throat and then holding that pose with your eyes and mouth closed for as long as you can. This mudra is also used to preserve vitality. By stimulating saliva production through yoga practice, we can aid our bodies in reducing the growth of bacteria in our mouth and mitigating the
spread of toxins through our bloodstream and in our digestive system too.
5. Several other asanas like matsyasana, sarvangasana, ardhamatsyendrasana, paschimottanasana, and siddhasana could be used in treating pyorrhea.
6. Another very common practice is where one pounds his upper teeth on the lower ones approximate 30 times and this is followed by massaging the entire gums with saliva coated tongue.
(Dr Rohit Sabharwal is a periodontist (gums specialist) and Regional Director of The Art of Living’s Sri Sri School of Yoga, Senior Faculty and Teacher’s Trainer.)