Smile is usually the first thing people notice. To be able to smile wide & have a hearty laugh, the oral cavity must be clean. Mukha (oral cavity) is located in one of the most vital points (marma) in the body – the Shiras (head). Just like Hrudaya, utmost care is to be taken. Mouth connects the external environment to the inside. It is the indicator of health of digestive & respiratory systems. It is delicately linked to circulatory system also. Therefore, brushing teeth & cleaning the tongue plays an important role in preventing dental problems &other systemic illnesses as well. This article aims at explaining the proper method of teeth & tongue cleaning, and their link to Hrudaya.

Ayurveda perspective1:

After attending nature’s calls, one should move towards achieving proper oral cleanliness.

Brush – twig of trees grown in fertile land, which contain Kashaya (astringent), Katu (pungent) or Tikta (bitter) rasa (taste) like Nyagrodha (Ficus benghalensis), Khadira (Acacia katechu), Kakubha (Terminalia arjuna) , Nimba (Azadirachta indica) etc; which are 12 angula (approx. 21cms) long & thick as one’s little finger, should be chewed at the end to create bristles. Usually twigs tasting madhura (sweet) except Yashti (Glyzhirizha glabra ), Lavana (salty) are prohibited. Further, the twig should be clean, straight, with no knots or twists & uninfected.

Danta dhavana / Method of brushing – after chewing the twig tip adequately, teeth should be cleaned one by one, starting with lower set & without hurting the gums. Danta shodhana choorna (tooth powder) can be used for gum-cleaning, softly.

Jihwa nirlekhana / Tongue scraping – the cleaner should be bent, blunt, made of gold/silver or similar metals & 10 angula (approx. 17cms) long. Forcible scratching should not be done.

Gandusha / keeping liquids in the mouth for a prescribed time – after both teeth & tongue are clean, medicated oil or water (room temperature / cool) or kashaya of Nyagrodhadi gana etc, should be held in mouth.

Mukha prakshalana / mouth washLodhra (Symplocos racemosa) kashaya, Amalaka (Phyllanthus emblica) kashaya or water (cold in Greeshma & Sharat, lukewarm in other seasons) etc are used to clean mouth internally & externally. Similarly, washing of eyes is also mentioned.

How many times a day – oral cavity should be washed after every meal. Brushing is advised twice a day (Acharya Charaka), morning & after food (Acharya Vagbhata). {Other indications for cleaning the oral cavity include: before & after food, after sleep, after sneezing, before entering home etc. This should be done while sitting & without talking in between. Ashtanga Sangraha Achamana vidhi}

General contra-indications – those affected with indigestion, excessive vomiting, severe respiratory disorders, fever, facial palsy, mouth ulcers, headache; diseases of the heart, eyes, head, ears, throat, palette & tongue etc should not brush using twigs. Certain trees like Bilwa (Aegle marmelos), Babboola (Vachellia nilotica), Shigru (Moringa oleifera), Shami (Prosopis cineraria) etc are prohibited for use as brushes.

Note: such individuals may opt for milder methods of cleaning like Gandusha (oil pulling), Kavala (gargling), Prakshalana (rinsing) etc.


Local: cleanses the oral cavity of wastes & avoids development of plaques, prevents halitosis (foul breath), enhances taste perception;

Systemic: Mukha swasthya & Hrudaya: Clean teeth & tongue ensure proper breakdown of food particles & ensuring proper taste. This is the first essential step in warding off indigestion & attaining Samyak jeerna lakshana (indicators of proper digestion, assimilation & absorption like clear belching, enthusiasm etc) Presence of tongue coating indicates Ajirna (inadequate digestion). As seen in previous articles, this is a fundamental cause in many systemic illnesses including Hrudroga. Asya vairasya (bad or altered taste perception) & Aruchi (tastelessness) are common symptoms of Hrudroga.

Western perspective:

Role in digestion – Misalignment, infection and missing teeth can all affect proper chewing, breakdown of foods and therefore, proper digestion2.

Role in respiration – Studies have linked crooked, crowded, or uneven teeth or teeth grinding to conditions like sleep apnoea, in which someone repeatedly stops breathing during sleep3.

Heart & teeth link4 – plaque on teeth may be linked to atherosclerotic plaque in arteries. People with disease of gums (periodontal disease) are shown to be more susceptible to cardiovascular ailments like stroke. This may be due to common risk factors such as smoking, improper diet etc. Regular habit of brushing hurriedly & only once a day has been linked to a threefold increase in risk of developing CVDs. Poor dental health also poses a risk to people with heart valve problems5. Ongoing researches are aiming at providing solid evidence between CVDs and oral hygiene.


Points to be noted:

  1. Do not brush teeth roughly & in a hurry.
  2. Cleaning tongue forcibly to an extent of almost vomiting is strictly prohibited. This draws Vata upwards forcefully, leading to Hrudroga.
  3. Wash / rinse mouth after every meal.
  4. Avoid toothpastes with artificial flavours & sweeteners.
  5. If suffering from diseases of oral cavity, consult an Ayurveda physician regarding medicines used for gargling & brushing.


Though linking teeth and heart seems far-fetched, it is evident that inadequate oral hygiene can contribute to a host of systemic diseases including CVDs. Regular Danta dhavana & Mukha prakshalana with the right herbs can ward off several diseases of the mouth while ensuring proper removal of excess Kapha & contributing to proper movement Vata. Therefore, appropriate Danta dhavana, Jihwa nirlekhana & Mukha prakshalana are key indicators of overall health.

For more information on oral hygiene, please read:


  1. Sushruta Samhita Chikitsa sthana 24, Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 2, Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 5
  5. – brushing and heart health
  6. – Periodontal disease and CVD – atherosclerosis, CAD


Author : Dr. Spoorthy S Naik, B.A.M.S
Consultant Ayurvedic Heart care specialist
Sriranga Ayurveda Chikitsa Mandira, Dattagalli, Mysore-…