Herbs and spices that boost oral health
There are, however, spices and herbs you can ingest that promote oral health outside of traditional dental medicine. When combined with the sage advice of your dental hygienist, regular consumption of these all-natural products may just save your next date or job interview, and your overall health.
Bloodroot gets its (rather icky) name from the red-orange sap in the roots. The herb contains sanguinarine, an anti-microbial that has shown effectiveness in killing the germs that cause plaque and gingivitis. You can find bloodroot in some over-the-counter mouthwashes and toothpastes. It’s not a good idea to chew on it after digging it out of the ground though- at high potencies, it can cause mouth lesions. Also, you’ll look like you just ate a steak that was a little bit too rare. So leave this one to the pros and get your bloodroot pre-packaged.
No, this basil is not touched by a higher deity, but it is highly regarded in eastern medicine as a cure-all for a number of issues. Holy basil (also known as tulsi) has astringent properties that will kill harmful germs hiding in hard-to-reach crevices between teeth. Gargle a tulsi tea each morning instead of a harsh, alcohol-based mouthwash, and get the same breath-freshening benefits.
With such a complicated and medicinal-sounding name, you’d never know that this herb is just regular green tea. Green tea has catechins, a substance that fights off the bacteria that cause bad breath and plaque. So replace that tooth-browning morning coffee with a cup of green tea. Your coworkers may thank you for it (mentally) when you breathe out your “good morning.” If you’re worried about the caffeine in green tea, worry not! Decaf green tea is just as effective in terms of oral health benefits.
Have a toothache? Smack the hand that reaches for the Orajel! Instead, apply a small amount of clove oil to a cotton swab and gently rub it on the offending tooth. A 2006 study in the Journal of Dentistry showed that clove oil can be just as effective as benzocaine (the active ingredient in Orajel) in treating mouth pain. The powerhouse ingredient in clove oil is eugenol, which is antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anesthetic. The University of Iowa has also touted clove oil’s effects on easing mouth sores and preventing plaque formation. It is the Swiss army knife of herbal treatments!
No, it’s not just for spicing your eggnog on Christmas Eve. According to Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, Nutmeg contains the same eugenol as cloves, so it works as an anti-microbial, killing those little nasties that cause bad breath and plague. You can also rub nutmeg oil on your gums or drink a cup of warm nutmeg tea to ease a throbbing tooth or gum inflammation.
There you have it! A veritable buffet of herbs and spices to make your teeth happy and your breath fresh as a summer day! Be sure to consult your dentist or doctor before trying any herbal or alternative medicine remedy.
Note: This article was written by a guest author Robert Milton. He writes for Austin Dental Center, an Austin dentist who provides preventative dental care, cosmetic procedures, and restorative treatments such as dental implants. Austin Dental Center is located at 2304 Hancock Dr. Suite 1, Austin, TX 78756-2537, Phone: (512) 454-0414.