It seems easy enough -- brush, floss, rinse. But is what you know about brushing your teeth all wrong? Our wellness expert Peggy Hall shares her simple secrets for white teeth and fresh breath and how to drastically reduce your chances for getting sore throats.
"I don't even remember the last time I used toothpaste," Peggy says. "And that's because I use something else!"
Her magic ingredient? Baking soda.
According to Peggy, most commercial toothpastes contain artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners along with harsh chemicals that can become toxic over time.
"You know how some food tastes funny after you brush your teeth? That comes from chemicals called sulfates (used for foaming), triclosan (an antibacterial chemical) and added fluoride," she explains.
Peggy says that these compounds are absorbed directly into your body through your gums and can result in a toxic build-up over time. That's why a lot of toothpastes carry a warning that say "Harmful if swallowed."
Instead of toothpastes filled with artificial colors, flavors and harsh chemicals, Peggy suggests using good, old-fashioned baking soda.
Simply pour a little into a shallow bowl, moisten your toothbrush and brush away! It only costs pennies and leaves no weird aftertaste.
She recommends not brushing too hard to avoid removing sensitive tooth enamel, and making sure you used just a small amount of baking soda. For tooth sensitivity, use the baking soda just once or twice a week in place of your normal toothpaste and look for commercial toothpastes that are free of sulfates, parabens and artificial sweeteners.
"And use a soft bristle brush to protect your teeth and gums," Peggy adds.
Finally, Peggy recommends using a tongue scraper (or the edge of a spoon) to remove bacteria that gets trapped on your tongue. Starting at the back of your tongue, scrape gently forward toward the tips. Rinse off the scraper and repeat two or three times until your tongue is free of buildup.
"I do this every time I brush my teeth," Peggy says. "It not only helps banish bad breath, but it can also help prevent sore throats."
And of course, don't forget to floss!
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