Herbal Tooth Care
Ever since we discovered agriculture, human dental health has been a sketchy affair. Apparently our teeth don't like croissants and potato chips as much as we do. There are many long and convoluted stories about it all, but I wanted to share a few straightforward tips for using herbs for dental health that I've found to be helpful.
The easiest thing you can do to prevent cavities and gum is keep those teeth clean. There are alot of "natural" mouthwashes on the market, and it's my humble opinion that they all suck. They all contain either alcohol or glycerin, both of which have been found to have negative effects on your gums or tooth enamel. Yuck! The problem with shelf stable mouthwashes is that they all contain a preservative, which is usually the evil part.
The solution is perishable mouthwash. I like to make a strong tea, and store it in a jar in the fridge. I'll take a sip, put it back in the fridge, swish it around for a few minutes, and then spit it out. The tea keeps in a sealed jar for 3-5 days (do a smell test after day 3).
When I've had the time and space to do this several times a day, I've actually noticed improvements in my receding gums. Consistency is key.
HERBAL MOUTHWASH RECIPE:
I formulated this recipe specifically for receding gums. It contains antibacterial herbs, herbs to stimulate circulation, and to also tone and tighten the tissues.
1 oz prickly ash bark
1/2 oz Oregon grape bark
1/2 oz white oak bark
1/2 oz echinacea root
1/4 oz cinnamon pieces
The easiest is to go to an herb store and buy all the herbs cut and dried. Double the recipe if you want to save a trip back. Then mix them all together in a glass jar and keep it in your kitchen.
To make a batch of mouthwash, put a quart of water and three tablespoons of the herbs in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain in a mesh strainer and store in a jar in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Make a half recipe if this is too much for you. Make it stronger if you want.
Take a sip and swish in your mouth for 1-2 minutes. Do this 1-3 times a day. DO NOT SWALLOW THE MOUTHWASH. There's nothing poisonous, but there are some herbs in the tea that might be too stimulating or too drying for some people.
There are two supplements that I recommend to anyone experiencing tooth decay, especially cavities. The first is Vitamin D. There's been extensive research on it with children and preventing dental decay. The dosage recommended on the following site suggests 1,000-2,000 IU per day. Check out the following article:
Most sources will also tell you to take cod liver oil or fish oil. There's a lot of opinions on quality, toxin content, and sustainability. This is one supplement I do take, and I am sure to get a quality one. I recommend either Carlson's or Nordic Naturals. I get a liquid and store it in the fridge.
There's a point when you're tooth hurts, or your breath starts to stink, and you just know there's bacteria where there shouldn't be, and there's having a party. Luckily, there's a lot that herbs can do to prevent things from getting bad. Swiftness of action is the key here. These tricks can be used while you're waiting for a dentist appointment, or as an alternative to doing nothing and letting it fester in there. When engaged in this battle, just remember how close to the brain this is, and make smart decisions about when to reach for the antibiotics.
1) Take a tincture internally for acute infection. Herb Pharm has one called "Golden Echinacea" that I find to be pretty good. It's a good thing to have on hand anyway. When you take it, douse the affected area with it. Always check out contraindications or herb drug interactions of all the herbs in the formula. I like to take a squirt (about 30 drops) every 2 hours. This is something you can do after a tooth cleaning also (because they dislodge yucky bacteria when they clean your teeth).
2) Put a small amount of diluted oregano oil on a Q-tip and hold it on the area for 5 minutes. Depending on the severity of the situation, this can be done 5 or more times a day. Some people choose to take Oregano oil internally, but I think it can damage your organs and GI tract, so I don't. I spit and rinse after this.
3) There's a toothpaste I love that's made with Bentonite clay, essential oils, salt and colloidal silver. These are all things that are great for infection. I've had good success with smearing this stuff on, keeping it in there as long as possible, and then rinsing my mouth out.
4) If there's a swollen or hard area in your cheek, I massage it from the outside (If it's excruciating, leave it and get yourself help. Paying for a dentist is better than dying.) I've also done hot compresses on the area to keep the blood flowing efficiently. Good blood flow is needed for your body to get it's own fighters in and out.
5) I've heard reports of white oak bark tincture clearing up tooth infections just by itself. I have no personal experience of this, but I thought I'd include it for information's sake. I would imagine this would be a great thing to douse something like a broken tooth, or a decaying tooth to keep things clean in there.