How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome

How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome

Hello! My name is Hilarie Steele and I am a dental hygienist, patient advocate, and the CEO of Best Natural Smile, a forward-thinking and unique dental practice in Santa Monica, California.

I’m on a mission to change the world of dentistry by creating a refreshing new patient experience that is enjoyable, innovative, and provides a more accessible path to achieving optimal oral health.

Hilarie Steele
Hilarie Steele Best Natural Smile

I was introduced to The Skinny Confidential by my dear friend and colleague, Emma Baker, of The Emma Edit, who has previously been featured for her design work on Lauryn’s blog (check out her posts here & here). 

Emma and I met in December 2019. After sharing with her my current project,  passions, visions, and dreams to be a changemaker in the dental industry, she was blown away by my concept and immediately had ideas to help me shake things up. She was the right person at the right time to join me in creating the footprint and design for the future of my brand.

Hilarie Steele and Emma
Emma Baker and Hilarie Steele

Ever since, we have been determined and steadfast in developing a new path for dentistry by testing my ideas with the supportive help of my entire team at, Best Natural Smile.

Emma made the introduction to Lauryn’s team after feeling that this community was the perfect audience to learn about this new mindset around dentistry and the significance of the Oral Microbiome and how it affects your overall health. 

As someone who is also passionate about the latest trends in wellness, I was hooked after diving into Lauryn’s content. And I am excited to share with you today!

Hilarie Steele oral care tips

How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome

I am a native southern California girl and after graduating top of my class from UCLA as a Dental Hygienist, I was excited to get to work in the healthcare space on my journey to change the industry. As rewarding as my clinical work has been over the years, I was constantly daydreaming about nature, art, and design and how to combine my two worlds.

I am obsessed with the diverse ecosystems found within our planet, protecting animals and the health of all humankind. From spending my time with my husband Gregg, beautifying my garden, hanging out with our beloved pup Brody, and living just a short walk from the Pacific coast today, my inspiration comes from my love for the beauty in nature. These qualities are at the core of this endeavor and have fueled me to bring a new face to oral health.

I felt compelled to find a way to breathe life into a field that is stuck in an ancient system. I realized my entire focus had to shift to how I could help change the world of dentistry. And not only find the reason why it was continuing to fail so many patients, but also develop the solution.

On a daily basis it seemed as if everybody on the planet would prefer being anywhere else but in a dental chair. 

The majority of those I cared for showed signs of inflammation and an array of oral issues that patients were completely unaware of and were not addressing. Once they were informed, I was continually met with disbelief and frustration.

Prior to my patients visiting me for the first time, I realized a common thread. The professionals that came before me, had sadly not provided the education surrounding the delicate balance of the Oral Microbiome. And just how fragile the ecosystem that lies within their mouth was. In addition, there was a lack of communication or depth put into a proper at-home oral health regime.

bristle health

I had to ask myself, why?

On a journey to find further solutions I have immersed myself with like-minded authorities in the wellness space who also support my philosophy that patient care should be more focused on a root-cause approach rather than simply addressing the symptoms.

We all have the same mission, influencing the quality of healthcare and the way it is delivered on a global basis.

Through the pandemic taking a huge toll on the human race, it came to me that we were lacking a true appreciation for life and had little to no trust in the world that takes care of us. As a collective, we had lost the ability to take a breath, slow down, and truly absorb the efficacy of the information surrounding wellness and our healthcare system.

How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome
How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome

For me, the biggest takeaway from the pandemic was that it raised my conscious awareness to consider a more grounded life anchored in peace and wellness.

It became critically important to me to curate a lifestyle and environment that nurtures me on the path to longevity in every aspect of my health. On my mission for change, I thought “why not take a deeper dive into my own personal health journey?”

After searching for a trailblazer in root-cause (functional) medicine, I came upon Dr. Mark Hyman and the UltraWellness Center which is the facility he founded. His work has changed my life and was the final push for me to connect all the dots. Not only for myself but also for my patients. I am so grateful for Dr. Elizabeth Boham (part of the UltraWellness team) who currently is working with me to nail down the best path for my own personal wellness.

ILIA lip balm

Paired with my patient advocacy and my continued experience under my care at UltraWellness, I am constantly reminded of the pitfalls of the modern medical industry. And just how poorly we are plagued by an epidemic of mediocre support.

A large part of my healing journey and those of my patients has been educating myself and understanding functional medicine and dentistry as well as the environment around us. 

I’d love to give you some recommendations of my favorite books on this subject:

+ The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox by Dr. Mark Burhenne

+ Holistic Dental Care by Nadine Artemis

+ It’s All in Your Mouth by Dr. Dominik Nischwitz

+ The Dental Diet by Dr. Steven Lin

+ Heal Your Oral Microbiome by Cass Nelson-Dooley

+ Breath by James Nestor

+ Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson

+ The Plant Paradox by Dr. Steven Gundry, MD

+ The Telomere Effect by Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD and Elissa Epel, PhD

+ Food – What the Heck Should I Cook? by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD

+ Cleanse to Heal by Anthony William

+ Feng Shui Your Life by Jayme Barrett

How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome
Oral care set

Let’s get into how this applies to the dental industry and just why I believe the system needs a makeover.

The current dental industry is riddled with a lack of transparency and neglects the patient’s best interest, which should be supporting their smile on the path to longevity and prioritizing the Oral Microbiome.

So what is the Oral Microbiome and why is it so important?

The Oral Microbiome is the delicate balance of 6 billion+ bacteria and microorganisms that call your mouth home. Keeping them in check is very important, not only for oral but for overall bodily health. After all, everything enters your body through your mouth so it makes sense that keeping this environment safe is crucial to the longevity of your smile.

Oral care must-haves

Your mouth is a mirror of your body and a healthy body starts with a healthy mouth.

While some of these oral microbes are beneficial and support our health, when an imbalance is present, others can lead to inflammation. Not only does this promote gum disease, and cavities but greatly affects our brain function. For example, studies are emerging daily showing the connection between oral wellness and cognitive decline, specifically Alzheimer’s and Dementia, which can be tied to an unhealthy mouth and improper care at home. The importance of a safe and effective home routine is vital. 

Almost every chronic ailment points back to an imbalanced mouth.

There is so much to say about the effect of improper oral hygiene on our bodies. For instance, there are studies supporting that severe Covid-19 outcomes and a multitude of other diseases are directly linked to poor oral health. But that is a blog all on its own.

Finding a routine and balance in your daily health and wellness practices is always a good idea, but it’s especially important when it comes to caring for your smile.

How To Heal Your Oral Microbiome with Hilarie Steele

I firmly believe that routine testing of your Oral Microbiome  – the world inside your mouth – is the first step to knowing how to better understand it, take care of it, and what to start doing if you’re looking to improve it for better overall health.

I have partnered with Bristle Health to ensure that every hygiene patient our team sees has the opportunity for testing. With just one small saliva sample, this awesome technology delivers the crucial information needed to create a personalized path for smile longevity. 

So now that we have an overview of how important it is to maintain proper oral hygiene and a healthy Oral Microbiome, let’s break down how we can achieve smile longevity at home in between our dental visits.

During your life experience take a moment to think about this – has anyone really explained to you what it takes to keep your teeth intact throughout your entire lifespan? After all, who in the world wants to end up with dentures? Or who has even thought about it?

I have developed a personal Shine Routine for patients to maintain an optimal Oral Microbiome and a healthy smile. Smile routines should mirror those which are for skincare, supplements, and exercise and they should also be done both morning and night.

Beauty and wellness routines seem to be the priority, but why have our smiles been left behind?

Outward beauty begins from inside the mouth. Your smile is your first impression and it deserves to be well groomed.

Hot Tip: Those big-name brands that have been circulating in your bathroom for years should be put where they belong – in the garbage! Many big-name dental brands fill their products with harmful ingredients that hamper instead of support a healthy Oral Microbiome. We want this diverse ecosystem to be flourishing with good bacteria to help support and encourage overall wellness.

The Basics of My Shine Routine

waterpik water flosser
water flossing

♡ Step 1: Water Flossing

Using a water flosser gets you off to a great start by removing food particles in between and around your teeth.

Benefits: 

+ aids in the reduction of bacteria in the Oral Microbiome

+ stimulates (exercises) your gum tissue

+ facilitates a more thorough brushing experience

I recommend using the Waterpik for use once a day as the first step in your routine. 

However, feel free to use it as often as you’d like.

cocofloss floss

♡ Step 2: Floss

Do we really need to floss? YES! 

This step removes the last remnants of unreachable plaque (biofilm) from in between each tooth and below the gum line. If left untreated, it can not only cause inflammation of the gum tissue but can erode tooth enamel and produce a nasty rock-like substance known as “tartar”.

Benefits:

+ reduces the likelihood of inflammation occurring in the gums

+ prevents soreness, puffiness, and unsightly redness

+ minimizes the chance of yellowing or discolored teeth

+ reduces the risk of cavities

I recommend a natural floss used without Teflon or nylon, which most big-name flosses on the market unfortunately contain. I have searched far and wide and my favorite is CocoFloss which is made up of natural fibers that feel like a loofah between your teeth! And for those Glide lovers who require a floss that doesn’t shred, my favorite is Moon.

I recommend flossing at least once a day, preferably at bedtime when your mouth is closed and likely to produce an entirely new round of bacteria. Brushing will remove the plaque from the surfaces of your teeth, and floss will take care of the hidden spaces in between. Combined with water flossing, we’ve now cleared all signs of debris out of your smile and we are ready to brush. 

oral care routine

♡ Step 3: Brush

 This should speak for itself! Brushing ensures the removal of plaque (biofilm), which is the primary cause of gum disease and tooth decay. 

Benefits:

+ cleanses tooth enamel

+ reduces overgrowth of harmful bacteria found in biofilm

+ aids in combating inflammation

I recommend a power brush rather than hand brushing. Why? An electric toothbrush, more specifically, the Oral-B Powerbrush, is one of the only electric toothbrushes on the market that has a circular brush head similar to what is used during your hygiene visit. In my experience, this shape can get to hard-to-reach areas inside your mouth. The circular motion against your teeth is the most effective for removing day-to-day build-up and for keeping your teeth clean.

Brush your teeth no less than twice daily for two minutes after flossing. Never go to bed without brushing!

Also, brush your tongue with your toothpaste! Many people often forget this very vital step. 

Most of your bad breath and bacteria come from the tongue – not the teeth!

Boka mint toothpaste

♡ Toothpaste 

Let’s not forget to use effective toothpaste. This is crucial.

My favorite toothpaste swaps the traditional fluoride with Nano-hydroxyapatite – the natural mineral that makes up 60 to 70% of human hard tissue, bones, and 90% of tooth enamel. This magic mineral is the future of maintaining tooth strength and is biocompatible and non-toxic.

Benefits:

+ protects your tooth’s outer layer

+ prevents demineralization and sensitivity

+ rebuilds tooth enamel

+ restores smoothness and mineral density

+ helps create whiter, brighter teeth

My favorite toothpaste on the market (and trust me I have tried all of them),  is by Boka. It’s one of the only kinds of toothpaste that contains the power of Nano-hydroxyapatite. There are several flavors, but I am partial to Ella Mint! It’s a soothing mixture of aloe vera, bacteria-fighting xylitol, antioxidant-rich green tea, and refreshing mint. It leaves you with that fresh breath feeling you crave and it is unmatched.

Place a pea-sized amount of paste on your powerbrush while brushing. 

Boka oral care

♡ Step 4: Tongue Scrape

Tongue scraping helps maintain the right balance of “good” bacteria in your mouth. 

Benefits:

+ clears toxins, bacteria, and dead cells from the tongue that develop overnight

+ helps maintain a balanced Oral Microbiome

+ promotes overall oral and digestive health

+ enhances the sense of taste

+ combats bad breath

I recommend the Boka tongue scraper. It is stainless, easy to use, and comes in a canvas bag to keep things simple and easy for storage and travel. After brushing your tongue, place the tongue scraper as far back as you are able and scrape towards the front of your tongue. Rinse and repeat until the tool is clear of debris.

Shine Routine essentials

♡ Step 5: Rinse

Using mouthwash is the final step. It reduces bacteria which helps combat dental plaque formation. 

Typically, you may think that the purpose of mouthwash is for fresher breath but your mouth rinse should be about so much more. The rinse I recommend is a natural macrobiotic product formulated for daily use. Most on the market are filled with synthetic dyes, fragrances, and harmful ingredients.

Benefits:

+ hydrates any signs of dry mouth

+ kills bacteria that cause gum disease

+ promotes healthy gums and oral healing

+ freshens your breath

I recommend the StellaLife Oral Care Rinse twice a day after flossing. 

Swish for up to 2 minutes and spit. Both the mint and coconut options are delightful.

♡ Tips and Tricks for Additional Support 

Balance & Protect

Consider these bonus steps. I love an immunity boost in any way, and this is how to get one. Our mouth is the gateway to the rest of our bodies, so it’s important to keep our Oral Microbiome in balance. Two easy ways to build a robust microbiome are by using an immune-boosting throat spray and an oral probiotic.

My favorite throat spray is from BeeKeeper’s Naturals and it contains propolis (a natural resin-like material made by bees) which supports your immune system with antioxidants, vitamin c, zinc, iron, b vitamins, and over 300 beneficial compounds. This magic elixir contains flavonoids and polyphenols that fight free radicals and combat oxidative stress while soothing any sign of a scratchy throat. Use code SKINNY for 25% off your first order.

I recommend 4 sprays after your mouth rinse followed by an oral probiotic.

For the oral probiotic, I use the PRO-Dental from Hyperbiotics which contains four targeted strains of chelated zinc. This small mint crowds out undesirable bacteria and proactively supports the Oral Microbiome by balancing the pH in the oral cavity. It supports your tooth enamel and helps boost immune and upper respiratory health.

Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing oil in your mouth to remove bacteria and promote oral hygiene. 

In addition, oil pulling should be performed daily on an empty stomach before brushing teeth and no oil should be swallowed. Check out this post for more on oil pulling.

Benefits:

+ can kill harmful bacteria in your mouth

+ detoxifies your mouth and gums

+ helps reduce bad breath

+ naturally whitens your teeth

You can use any organic unrefined coconut oil and swish with a tbsp every morning for 15 minutes. 

Remember to never swallow and to spit only into a trash can.

We are suckers for efficiency so Emma and I made our own oil-pulling “gummy bears” to easily pop into our mouths every morning.

Last but not least, I moisturize with my favorite non-toxic lip balm by IliaNothing is hotter than fresh breath and hydrated lips.

There you have it! My step-by-step Shine Routine to prepare you for creating a lifetime of smile longevity. And developing a strong, healthy oral microbiome. It’s all about romanticizing your life. Why should your oral hygiene routine be a drag? I make this ritual a beautiful practice that I start and end my day with. 

Feel free to use our downloadable PDF to easily print out. And stick on your mirror to follow step by step!

Shine Routine oral care

When it comes to the whole-human approach, setting up daily habits that spark joy makes an immense impact on our overall wellness.

Even with my above routine, I strongly recommend that you visit a qualified dental hygienist who can make recommendations and keep your home care on track by properly cleaning your teeth and personalizing the number of visits you may require each year. 

cocofloss flavors

Because of biodiversity, we all have different needs. There is no one size fits all or “every 6 months” approach. It’s time to take a proactive approach, be more informed by proper Oral Microbiome testing, and curate a home care routine that keeps you shining.

Disclaimer: If you spot any redness in the sink after brushing, or during any part of your home care routine, it’s time to seek professional help. Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before adding any practices or supplements into your routine, particularly if you are pregnant or nursing.

Important Pillars of Oral Health

Final Thoughts – Important Pillars of Oral Health

+ Sleep

It’s easy to understand why many of us take breathing for granted; it’s something our bodies do automatically, every day, all day. We may not think about how we breathe, either. But it turns out that proper breathing could be the key to improving our sleep, our overall health, and our wellbeing. An important part of your dental visits should be evaluating your sleep habits. Read more about my blog on The Power of Breath here

+ TMJ

Do you or someone you know suffer from TMJ? TMJ is a sometimes painful condition that can result from poor sleep that leads to clenching or grinding during the night. It’s important to treat any signs of possible sleep apnea to avoid this painful condition and keep existing symptoms at bay. One way to ease pain in your jaw is by facial massage or ice rolling. Both of these methods can decrease inflammation and soothe symptoms. Obviously grab the PINK BALLS or HOT MESS ice roller to help you with both of these. They’re quick, efficient and they work.

+ Tips for Your Kids

Begin introducing your child to dental hygiene visits as early as age two. Find a hygienist who allows you to have your child in your lap while performing a kids exam and cleaning. Monitor your child’s sleep and be sure that mouth breathing is not present. For toothpaste, I recommend Boka’s children’s Orange Cream Space Paste which is non-toxic and free from artificial flavors or endocrine disruptors. The use of pacifiers, thumb sucking, and other crutches can inhibit your child’s ability to properly develop their lower jaw and pave the way to orthodontic issues later on. You can read more on children’s oral health here.

Beyond my commitment to the care of my patients, keep your eye on me as I am a mover and a shaker who’s fighting for change and my new model for dentistry is around the corner.

In my free time, you can find me at the Playa Vista Farmers Market, spending time with Gregg on our sailboat, relaxing in my garden, dreaming up big plans for my next business venture, or at the beach with my pup, Brody.

Hilarie Steele and dog
oral care for dogs

One more thing…Dogs Need Oral Care Too

Speaking of Brody, we keep his pearly whites fresh too.

Dental doggy care is just as important as ours. And I recommend brushing your pup’s teeth as often as they’ll let you. My favorite toothpaste is Radius Organic Canine Dental Gel in Cinnamon Sweet Potato.

If you are in need of guidance or don’t know where to turn I provide complimentary coaching to patients all over the world. At the end of the day, the story told is always the same, patients endlessly asking “how do I stop the breakdown of my smile and who can I trust to keep my smile healthy?” I’m here to do both. I am your advocate and it is my mission to create change and solutions. I am always transparent, compassionate, and approachable. 

I’m here to start a conversation and support you. In addition, if you’d like a Shine Routine developed for you, get in touch! If you’re interested in scheduling a complimentary coaching session with me please email me at hilarie@bestnaturalsmile.com

oral health tips

I’m so happy you’re here and can’t wait to see you shine!

Hilarie Steele, RDH

Find me @bestnaturalsmile_

Thanks to,

Styling & Design: Emma Baker, The Emma Edit / @themmaedit

Photography: Beth Hawkes, Mariposa Pictures / @mariposapictures

Hilarie MakeUp: Monica Vazquez / @igbeauty_bymoni

Venue: Steele Residence, Marina del Rey California

+ learn how to remove toxicity from your mind & body.

++ stalk the benefits of using turmeric on your face.

SHOP ORAL HEALTH:

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