I was pleasantly surprised and at the same time, astonished to learn that an international store was selling “the very Indian Neem Datoon” (a twig from the neem tree as a tooth brush). I have grown up with my folks cleaning their teeth with this – a common practice among many Indian households when toothpaste and toothbrush were not available. In fact, this practice is still prevalent in the interiors of India.
Neem has therapeutic components
Neem tree is popular for its therapeutic value in Ayurveda, as it has good alkaline and astringent properties. The twig used for cleaning is disposable – use and throw. The twig is chewed on until it takes a bristle like form, which then is used to brush one’s teeth. This very process of chewing and using it as a brush make teeth and gums strong. The same twig is split apart and used as a tongue cleaner.
Tooth Brush – our modern tool
Tooth Brushes in different shapes, sizes and colors are the main utensils of dental cleaning today. Most of us might be aware that tooth brush needs to be sterilized before every single use but how many of us actually do that?!
Coming to the bristles of a toothbrush (if at all you had a time to give a thoughtful attention), it has deposits from the paste even if washed properly. In doubt? Pick up your kids toothbrush and check that out. These deposits are contaminated and are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. These germs go inside your mouth and enter your system leading to various problems. Furthermore bristles if hard or if used harshly during the cleaning action will definitely damage both your gums as well as teeth.
According to Hatha Yoga Samhita:, “The cleaning of the teeth, mouth, tongue, ears and the nasal cavities is the first duty of the yogic aspirant and should be performed early morning without fail.”
Well, the above statement is applicable to all and not only to the yogic aspirants. There are kriyas in yoga which specifically target the sensory organs of the body. Danta Dhouti (teeth cleaning) is one such kriya:
Danta Moola Dhouti (massaging of gums and teeth)
Danta + Moola + Dhouti= Teeth + Root + Cleansing.
Therefore this practice is focused mainly on cleansing of teeth and gums.
- Right hand thumb and index finger is used for cleaning and massaging the gums of the left side of your mouth and vice versa.
- Place one of the finger outside of the lower set of teeth and the other finger on the inside. The other three fingers are folded. Begin to massage. The movement of the fingers will be top of tooth down to the gum.
- While massaging the upper set of your gums, thumb will remain inside and the index finger will be outside. The movement of the fingers will be from the gum to the end of the teeth.
- Massaging of the gum and the teeth should be like milking effect.
- The massaging effect makes the teeth and gums healthy and improves blood circulation to the gums.
- Helps in dealing with bad breath/foul smell in the mouth. Enamel covering of the teeth is protected.
Avoid in case of bleeding/swelling of gums or painful gums and of course, long nails.
Jiva Moola Dhauti (Cleansing of the root area of the tongue)
Jiva + Moola + Dhauti = Tongue + Root + Cleaning
One, cannot but notice, a thin layer of yellowish substance on the tongue. This represents some kinds of impurities / toxins which the body is trying to expel. These impurities are breeding grounds for bacteria.
- Join your index, middle & ring fingers together
- open your mouth wide
- Insert the three joined fingers inside your mouth as much possible towards the back of the throat
- Slowly massage the root of the tongue. The movement of the fingers should be a gentle circulation and simultaneously up and down movement on the tongue, without inducing nausea
- Remove your fingers and spit out the phlegm or any other impurity
When to Practice
Preferably before breakfast
For How Long
- Cleanses the root region of the tongue
- Improves the health of the throat (you can see a lot of phlegm coming out after this practice)
- Brings clarity in vocal chords
- Stimulates salivary glands
Avoid in case of sore throat, swelling or painful tongue or if your nails are long
- Use of lemon juice on a brush or the rind of a lemon which can be rubbed up and down the gums and the teeth – a good way of removing tarnish from the teeth.
- Mix salt with mustard oil and brush your teeth with this concoction. Use your fingers. It will remove the yellowish ting from your teeth.
By the way, I have been practicing what I have preached above from the last month. The whole experience invigorates me. My mouth feels fresh and rejuvenated all day long.
Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.