3 Great Dental Health Benefits from Practicing Yoga

Yoga can improve dental health? You're kidding, right? No, we're not kidding. Yoga isn't just for improving flexibility and balance, clearing one's thoughts, improving one's mood, and inspiring positivity for a better life. Yoga really can improve your dental health as well.

Image by Kelly Tarala

When we realize how interconnected each part of the body is, it's not hard to see how this works. You've no doubt heard that diseases in the mouth such as gingivitis have been linked to other health issues such as heart disease. Certain conditions in the body lead to side effects in other places. If ignored, this can result in a never-ending cycle of increasingly serious dental and general health issues.

The remarkable thing about our bodies is that there are natural ways we can combat many dental and general health issues. One of the ways we can achieve improved health is by practicing yoga.

Yoga is a wonderfully therapeutic practice for our bodies, helping us to improve our mental wellbeing, flexibility, circulation, the health of our muscles, joints, and organs, and the health of our teeth as well.

If you don't think yoga is for you, we hope we can help you change your mind. Here are three reasons why donning the yoga garb and getting into yoga poses promotes healthier teeth and a healthier you. And if you do love yoga, well, here are some great reasons to stick with it. 

Yoga Reduces Stress

It seems this world is teeming with stress. Everyone has it for one reason or another. It's hard to get away from it. Sometimes it feels like it chases after us. Yoga is a great way to reduce this stress.

As mentioned earlier, yoga helps us to clear our thoughts and to focus on breathing techniques which in itself has many therapeutic benefits. By the end of a one-hour yoga session, we should feel relaxed with a renewed sense of purpose. We can breathe easier and all of the stresses and tension we've been holding onto for so long melt away. Our sore muscles and aching joints are soothed and we have a new spring in our step. 

But what does stress have to do with dental health?

Stress actually has a lot to do with the health of our teeth and gums. Studies have shown that people who are stressed are less likely to give their teeth and gums the proper oral care. Stress wears down the body, often leaving us feeling too tired or uninspired to take care of our health.

Stressed individuals also have a tendency to grind their teeth which can cause the front teeth to become worn down; micro-cracks and broken fillings which can lead to nerve damage; the teeth to be ground down to the dentin which results in sensitivity to heat and cold; gum recession due to pressure on the gum line; loose teeth and gum pockets caused by the rocking motion of teeth grinding; headache and aching jaws due to overworked jaw muscles; and jaw impairment.

Additionally, stress can cause the salivary glands to slow the production of saliva which is an important ingredient for washing away bacteria and food particles. When the mouth is dry, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. This bacteria, if left alone, can cause serious dental issues including gum disease and tooth decay.

Another byproduct of reducing stress is a reduction of inflammation in the gums. Stress exacerbates inflammation in the gums which can lead to more serious dental issues and even general health issues.

Through yoga practice, one can alleviate stress and protect the teeth and gums. Additionally, yoga can help reduce inflammation not just in the mouth but in the rest of the body as well.

Yoga Improves Posture

Having good posture comes with many benefits, including improved breathing, stronger core muscles, a healthier mood and better confidence, better memory and brain function, less stress, better productivity, and more energy. Simply sitting upright when stressed may be an effective way to maintain self-esteem and increase a positive mood.

In addition to these amazing benefits, good posture also positively impacts the health of our teeth and gums. Most people wouldn't think that posture has anything to do with dental health. But studies have shown that it does, in fact, play a significant role on the health of our teeth. How so, you ask? 

Poor posture affects more than just the spine and neck. It also affects the mouth. When a person slouches or hunches over, the lower jaw shifts forward causing the upper and lower teeth to come out of alignment. The skull also moves back and compresses the spine. This movement puts stress on the surrounding muscles, joints, and bones, and if left untreated, can create pain and inflammation in the muscles and joints when the mouth opens and closes.

If allowed to persist, bad posture can lead to jaw issues like temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ. TMJ is a common medical condition that involves some issue with how the upper and lower jaw work together. Some common side effects include chronic headaches, pain or a clicking sound when opening the jaw, tenderness of the jaw and face, and a change in jaw alignment which can result in uneven wear of the teeth or cracked teeth. 

An imbalanced bite causes a ripple effect for the rest of the body. The bite is related to the shape and position of the jaw. That, in turn, influences the position of the head on the spine. The position of the head affects balance and it creates the need for our bodies to structurally compensate for the poor dental alignment down the length of the body. If the head juts forward, it creates stress on the neck, spine, and collarbone. Other issues, such as the compression of the ear canal which then can cause allergies or drainage issues, may occur as a result. Other forms of poor posture include poorly balanced shoulders which can cause stress on the ribs and the organs underneath.

Did you know that your bite can also affect your pant length or cause uneven wearing down of your shoe heels?

It seems that by improving your bite, you are allowing the rest of your body's alignment to correct itself.

So, by improving your posture with a practice such as yoga, you can take the strain off the jaw and prevent a whole world of issues, not just issues relating to your jaw and teeth.

Yoga Stimulates Saliva Production

Saliva, a key ingredient for washing away bacteria and food particles, contains antibacterial enzymes that break down food and make food easier to swallow. When the salivary glands slow down the production of saliva, bacteria is allowed to grow. That is how "morning breath" occurs. A dry mouth creates an environment where bacteria can thrive. Chronic dry mouth can then cause plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Practicing yoga is a great way to learn proper breathing techniques that help prevent your mouth and throat from drying out. It can also stimulate the salivary glands. Yoga poses such as forward bends, twists, and inverted poses are known to increase saliva production.

The Khechari mudra--a mudra is a gesture or attitude that directs energies--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.

As we have seen, our amazing bodies have many healing capabilities if we only take the time and effort to utilize them. By reducing stress, improving posture, and stimulating saliva production, we can help prevent a number of dental health issues, from plaque buildup to enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Using yoga practice for dental health combined with good oral hygiene practices, including teeth brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings by your professional dental hygienist, is an effective way to promote healthy teeth and gums. Before you schedule your next dental appointment, see if our discount dental plan is right for you. Learn more… 

Resources:

  1. http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/bruxing/
  2. http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1992/fnov92/dental.shtml
  3. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=y&iid=323&aid=1308
  4. http://dg-dentistry.com/know-posture-affect-oral-health/
  5. http://www.mindthesciencegap.org/2013/03/20/downward-dog-to-decrease-inflammation/
  6. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/article/sw-281474979262533 
  7. http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/heart-disease/article/cardiovascular
  8. http://www.uprightpose.com/10-proven-benefits-of-good-posture/

 

Related Articles