Enhance Your Dental Health Naturally

Modern studies and centuries of use show that a wide variety of herbs, essential oils, and other natural substances improve oral hygiene and help prevent and heal many tooth and gum disorders. Many herbalists advocate a preventative, holistic approach to mouth care that combines herbs with an improved diet and an effective daily oral-hygiene routine.

Dental-health professionals agree that the most important factor in tooth and gum health is diet. Since the bacteria in the mouth thrive on sugar, it is best to reduce or eliminate refined simple sugars from the diet, and eat primarily fresh foods free of chemicals, additives, and preservatives. Eating whole grains and high-fiber foods like raw carrots, and chewing them thoroughly, stimulates the gums.

Nutritional supplements also improve dental health. Antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, and beta carotene improve oral health, and folic acid reduces plaque, inflammation, and bleeding in the mouth. Daily doses of Coenyzme Q10 combat receding gum lines. Supplemental vitamins and minerals are important, since the body takes needed calcium from the jaw bone first in the event of a deficiency, which can lead to loose teeth. Eating kelp daily promotes healthy teeth and gums, since it is rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

In addition to diet, a thorough, consistent oral-hygiene routine is important for healthy gums and teeth. Since gum disease and tooth decay stem largely from excess bacteria residing between the teeth and gums to form plaque and tartar, the main goal of oral hygiene is to remove excess bacteria from the mouth. Dental professionals recommend brushing your teeth at least twice, and flossing at least once, daily. Since bacteria can also collect on the tongue, cleaning the tongue with a toothbrush, a commercially-available tongue scraper, or even an upside-down soup spoon, eliminates twice as much bacteria from the mouth as just brushing the teeth. It is also beneficial to thoroughly brush the gums, as well as the insides of the cheeks. Over time, bacteria can inhabit your toothbrush and reenter your mouth with each brushing, so dental-care professionals advocate changing your toothbrush twice a month. You can also buy a toothbrush sterilizer, or soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash between uses. Electric rotary brushes have been shown to remove significantly more plaque than regular brushes.

Rubber-tipped gum stimulators also further aid in cleaning, stimulating and massaging the gums to keep the tissues healthy. Brushing and flossing alone cannot always remove enough bacteria from deeper gum pockets, so dental-care providers often recommend oral-irrigation devices such as the “Water Pic” and “proxi-brushes,” very small brushes resembling bottle-brushes or pipe cleaners. These tools can clean hard-to-reach areas between teeth, around braces and other dental work, and inside spaces caused by receding gums.

If you wish to maintain healthy teeth and gums naturally, you can easily incorporate natural and herbal tools and preparations, such as natural brushes or picks, powders, pastes, teas and mouthwashes into your daily oral-hygiene routine. Many preparations are easy to make at home, and health-food stores sell their own varieties that include the same herbs and ingredients. It is important to exercise care when using herbs. Some herbs can be toxic if used for too long or in too great amounts. In addition, the active ingredients in some herbs are not recommended for certain health conditions, and can react negatively with prescription medications or other remedies. It is therefore recommended, especially if you are pregnant, wish to treat a child, have special health conditions, or are taking prescription medications, that you research the herbs that interest you before using them, and consult a qualified professional if you have questions or doubts.

A great many herbs and natural substances promote tooth and gum health by tightening the gum tissue, promoting circulation, and removing plaque and debris from the mouth. To name just a few, these include resins such as myrrh and the anti-viral bee product, propolys, which stimulates the production of new mouth tissues, usnea, a lichen stronger than penicillin against strep and staph bacteria, bloodroot, and plantain, a common weed which eases mouth abscesses and inflammation. High-tannin-content herbs such as krameria and oak apples also enhance tooth and gum health. Hawthorn extract, used over time, tightens the gum tissue. Echinacea extract, an antimicrobial immune strengthener, fights bacteria in the mouth. Extract of aloe vera also soothes and benefits the mouth tissues. Licorice root is anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, inhibits plaque growth, and tastes pleasant, so it is often added to toothpastes and mouthwashes. The essential oils of many healing plants are naturally antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, and increase blood flow to the gums. Dental-health-enhancing essential oils include tea tree, peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, orange, clove, cinnamon, ginger, sage, rosemary, thyme, anise and fennel, to name a few.

Many traditional cultures make natural, disposable toothbrushes and gum stimulators from the twigs or roots of healing plants. Bay, fir, juniper, eucalyptus, oak, willow, and neem-tree twigs have served this purpose, as well as the roots of marshmallow, horseradish, alfalfa, and licorice. Health-food stores often sell a rough equivalent, wooden toothpicks soaked in healing essential oils. You can even make your own by placing undyed wooden toothpicks in a glass jar and covering them with a dental-health-enhancing essential oil. Let them soak in the oil overnight, then allow them to air-dry.

To prepare a simple homemade toothpaste, mix a small amount of baking soda with just enough hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Apply this paste to the gum line, both inside and out, then place the rubber point of the gum stimulator between the teeth, and rotate in a circular motion for several seconds. Repeat this routine twice a day. Many tooth and gum problems occur when the pH inside of the mouth is too acidic, and baking soda alkalinizes the mouth. You can also add small amounts of zinc sulfate, folic acid (you can grind these to a powder in a coffee grinder or using a mortar and pestle), liquid vitamin E, one to two drops of peppermint or tea-tree essential oil, or hawthorn, echinacea, or aloe vera extracts. Experiment to find the particular mixture that best suits you. Other effective tooth powder ingredients are alum, salt, blackened eggplant, myrrh gum, turmeric, and white-oak or prickly ash bark. In some cases of severe gum disease, wrapping tooth powders in gauze and placing them in the corners of the mouth nightly has healed the condition in just a few months.

Herbal teas or extracts can replace water in your oral irrigator or serve as mouthwashes, for added benefits. Even the commercial mouthwash, Listerine contains anti-bacterial thymol, which is derived from the thyme herb. Since thymol reduces gingivitis, Listerine also works well in the oral irrigator. You can also prepare homemade mouthwashes by steeping dried herbs in vodka or apple cider vinegar. Good mouthwash herbs include cloves, coriander, dill, sage, peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary, fennel, sage, basil, cardamom, parsley, ginger, blackberry leaf, calendula or chamomile flowers, echinacea or marshmallow root, mint, raspberry leaf, basil, sage, thyme, and yarrow, to name a few.

As this overview shows, you can easily enhance your tooth and gum health naturally by combining herbs with proper diet and nutrition. For further information, including specific recipes, consult the sources listed below.