Did you know that nine out of 10 people have slightly misaligned, maloccluded, or crooked teeth? Paleontologists believe our jaws have grown smaller as our cultures shift from hunting, gathering, and eating without utensils to cutting and cooking meat into small pieces. As a result, our teeth do not have enough room inside our mouths and become crooked.
So, how do we fight evolution and achieve the straight pearly whites many people pay thousands of dollars for? Yoga. In this article, I’m going to explain how to straighten teeth by yoga.
Yoga Benefits on Dental Health
Let’s get straight to the point. There are no scientific studies that prove yoga can straighten your crooked teeth. Only braces can do that. But some studies (1, 2) have shown that yoga can be beneficial to your dental health in other ways.
Reduces the Stress of Getting Treatment
Getting dental treatments is so stressful. That’s why we tell kids there’s a tooth fairy out there who’s giving out money every time you lose a tooth and keep it under your pillow. Yoga can help in reducing the stress you feel about fixing your dental problems.
It can also stop you from grinding your teeth, which is one of the symptoms of stress and a cause of oral problems.
Improves Motivation to Keep Oral Hygiene
Yoga Improves Your Posture
A bad posture doesn’t only cause pains in your neck, shoulders, back, and hips and in your teeth. Bad posture causes misalignment in your bite. According to Dr. David Buck, DDS, of Balance Epigenetic Orthodontics, the jaw compensates by pushing the teeth closer together, which can cause pain in the jaw, crook the teeth, and worse, break them.
Yoga improves posture by improving your flexibility and strength. It opens up the chest, so you don’t slouch, and it makes your muscles strong so that it can keep the spine and your joints in their neutral position.
Yoga Increases Saliva Production
According to a study, pranayama (breathing exercises) stimulates the production of saliva. Saliva washes away bacteria and food in the teeth and gums. It is also a source of digestive enzymes, which help in breaking down food.
So, yoga can help keep the mouth free of bacteria that can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental issues.
Yoga Exercises to Improve Teeth and Overall Oral Health
Yoga doesn’t directly straighten out the teeth or treat dental diseases. But yoga exercises can help manage tooth pain, stimulate saliva production, and reduce stress.
Sukshma Asana or Yoga for the Face are subtle techniques that help in reducing stress, aging, and tiredness of the face. These are exercises for the face, including the jaw. Practicing this style of yoga can help in strengthening your jaw, which improves your overall oral health. Here are some Sukshma Yoga exercises you can do for your dental health.
If you grind your teeth because of stress or TMJ, this first exercise will help you to release tension in the jaw and neck.
- Sit tall in a chair or a yoga mat. Relax the whole face and body;
- Make a loose fist with your hands. Now, slightly pinch the sides of your neck and moving up to the root of your ears.
- Do this for at least two to three minutes.
Here’s a video that explains how to do this exercise:
- Open your jaw.
- Bring your fingers to your cheeks and find that area where the skin and teeth meet. Find the muscle behind where the skin and teeth meet.
- Now, push your fingers in, then to the back, and then up in that area.
- Hold this for at least two to three minutes.
If you have an overbite, this exercise can help with that.
- Sit or stand tall and clasp your fingers at the back.
- Protrude your lower jaw and start turning your head side to side.
- Do this ten or more times.
- Sit straight and clasp your fingers at the back.
- Protrude your lower jaw and bring the tip of your tongue to your hard palate.
- Then, turn your head side to side.
- Do this for ten or more rounds.
This next exercise will improve your overall dental health. It can also help in improving speech.
- Come to your most comfortable seated position.
- Relax your jaw, neck, and shoulders. Then, bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
- Make the sound “tah, tah, tah” 10 times or more.
Sheetkari Pranayama or hissing breath is a breathing exercise that you can do to increase your saliva production. It can also drive away bacteria in your teeth, gums, tongue, and whole mouth. Here’s how you can do it to help with improving the health of your mouth.
- Come to a seated posture with your hands on your knees. Keep your chin parallel to the ground, and your whole face relaxed.
- Bring the upper and lower teeth together. Then, bring the tip of the tongue to the back of your lower teeth.
- Now, breathe in through your mouth. You will feel a cooling sensation. At the end of your inhale, relax your mouth.
- Exhale through your nose.
- Do this for three to five minutes daily.
Another breathing exercise you can practice to stimulate saliva production and improve oral health is Sheetali Pranayama. Here’s how to do this:
- Sit in your most comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and relax your face. Bring your hands on your lap or top of the knees.
- Bring your tongue out and roll it into a tube.
- Take a breathe in through your mouth. Then at the end of your inhalation, bring the tongue in and relax your mouth.
- Exhale through your nostrils.
- Do this pranayama for three to five minutes daily.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Forward bends increase the production of saliva. Therefore, it can help in keeping your pearly whites clean and robust. Here’s how to do it:
- Sit down on the ground and extend your legs forward. Bend the knees a little if your spine rounds. Or put blocks or a stack of books under the knees. Keep your back straight and engage your core.
- Inhale as you extend your arms up to create space in the front body.
- Exhale and hinge from your hips to fold forward. You can bring your fingertips to the side of your legs or grab your feet with your hands. Bring the stomach close to your thighs. Relax your shoulders and keep your toes pointing up. Actively push through your heels.
- Stay in this position for five to ten rounds of breath.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Fish Pose or Matsyasana may also improve your dental here. Here’s how to do it:
- Lie down on your back and extend your knees fully.
- Take an inhale and lift your pelvis off the ground. Then, slide your hands under your buttocks. Exhale and bring the pelvis down.
- Take another inhale as you lift the pelvis and your chest. Then, bring the crown of your head to the floor. You should press the ground away with your forearms and keep the elbows close to your sides.
- Stay here for three to five breaths.
Practicing yoga can reduce your stress and motivate you to take care of yourself. While it will not give you a straight tooth as braces can, it can give you the courage to go to an orthodontist to get your teeth fixed.