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  • Dr. Nureen Sultana

Herbal Dentistry

With many synthetic products being regarded as harmful or rather unsafe to humans and the environment, herbal alternatives symbolise safety being derived from nature. Herbal extracts have been used in dentistry since eons, primarily as tooth cleaning agents or as anti-plaque agents. Use of herbal remedies to treat dental afflictions can be traced back to the early 15th century also known as the “Golden age of Herbalism.“

So here are some Natural products you can add to your repertoire to treat common dental diseases:

1. Bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodroot

It is an effective anti-plaque agent! It can also be used to treat gingivitis and halitosis.

How to use: It can be directly applied on to the teeth or as toothpaste containing bloodroot extracts.

2. Chamomile

Chamomilla recutita, German chamomile

As we know, chamomile tea is loaded with antioxidants that helps reduce the risk of several diseases including heart diseases and cancer. It's anti-inflammatory properties can also be used to treat gingivitis.

How to use: A dose of 1 to 4ml mixed with water can be used to treat ulcers and can also be used as a mouthwash.

3. Tulsi

Ocimum Sanctum, Holy Basil

Tulsi is known for its anti inflammatory action, bacteriostatic effect, antioxidant and immune modulatory properties making it therapeutic for gingival and periodontal diseases.

How to use: Tulsi extract could be used supragingivally in the form of a mouthwash or a gel and subgingivally, in the form of irrigation or local drug delivery system.

4. Peppermint

Mentha x piperita, Peppermint

It fights anaerobic bacteria thus preventing several oral diseases, and your breath cannot be fresher! Peppermint oil can also increase salivation, which is useful because dry mouth may result in halitosis

How to use: Just add a drop of this essential oil to tea at night or use it with a toothpaste while brushing.

5. Myrrh

Commiphora myrrha, Myrrh

It is effective in treating aphthous ulcers and intra-mucosal wounds. Myrhh has been found to be as effective as 0.2% Chlorhexidine, in reducing plaque build up, microbial count and gingival inflammation.

How to use: Use a mouthwash containing myrrh oil or directly apply to mouth.

6. Thyme

Thymus vulgaris, Thyme

Thyme oil exhibits antibacterial activity and can be used to reduce caries. Thymol is a component of thyme and generally used as varnish to prevent caries.

How to use: It is used topically as a counter irritant and as an antiseptic in mouthwashes.

7. Aloe vera

Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera

There are many uses of Aloe Vera in dentistry. The most important being its superiority in controlling bacteria leading to cavities when compared to commercially available tooth pastes. It is also a good anti fungal agent that can treat sores that occur as a consequence of ill fitting dentures. Studies have also shown that Aloe vera gel can be used to decontaminate GP cones.

How to use: It is available as a gel or as an ingredient in toothpastes.

8. Propolis (aka bee glue)

It is a resinous substance derived from bees that has extensive pragmatic uses in dentistry. Propolis serves as an excellent interim transport medium for avulsed teeth. It can also be used as an intra-canal medicament in low toxicity root canals.

9. Rosemary

Salvia rosmarinus, Rosemary

Rosemary has the power to inhibit the formation of dental biofilm by reducing the adherence of pathogens to dental surfaces. Hence it helps fight cavities and can prevent halitosis and plaque build up. Also, let's not forget that it has the power to make a mouth-watering bowl of pasta!

How to use: 5% rosemary extract can be used as toothpaste.

10. Triphala

Triphala consists of Haritaki, Bibhitaki and amla.

Triphala is one of the well recognised Indian Ayurvedic herbal formulation consisting of dried and powdered fruits of three medicinal plants namely Bibhitaki, Haritaki and Amalaki. It is used in dentistry as it inhibits growth of S.mutans thus preventing caries, is an effective anti-plaque agent and also serves as an excellent root canal disinfectant.

How to use: 0.6% triphala mouthwash used twice daily, is as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash.

Conventional drugs have side effects like antibiotic resistance, low tolerance levels etc which results in a continuing need for new solutions, this is why herbal extracts have the potential to be extremely popular as they are natural, inexpensive and have less undesirable effects. So try these alternatives and let us know in the comments, what you feel about herbal products in dentistry!

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