Always consult with your doctor before starting any new herbal supplements. Take caution if you are pregnant or nursing, on medications, or prone to allergic reactions.
In some native languages, the term for plants translates to, “those who take care of us.” There has always been an intrinsic intelligence between humans and plants. How have we gotten so far from our ancient knowledge?
With the rise of the industrial revolution, lab-made chemicals touting amazing benefits in a cheap and unnatural fashion, and standard diets subpar to our great-great-grandparents. The world has never had a higher rate of tooth decay and disease.
Herbal remedies have been around for centuries to aid in a healthy oral microbiome and strong teeth.
Long before fluoride, long before foamy SLS-filled toothpaste, and harsh alcohol mouth rinses. Nature has always provided exactly what our bodies need.
In addition to a healthy diet that provides all the needed minerals and nutrients, proper home oral care, and routine hygiene visits… these are my top 14 favorite herbs for your best oral health, holistically.
Arnica- One of our favorites for reducing pain, swelling, aches, bruising, and general inflammation. Mostly prescribed after extractions, deep cleanings, and tooth restorations. Can be dissolved in pellets under the tongue or infused oil of arnica can be applied externally. The anti-inflammatory ingredient in arnica is called helenalin.
Cayenne pepper- Pain relief. Made as a paste. Can be mixed with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or water, and applied to the affected area. It is intense at first, warming, and the pain subsides soon after. These healthy peppers were considered such a medical breakthrough that one of Christopher Columbus’ doctors supposedly brought them back to Europe. Capsaicin is the main compound in cayenne that controls inflammation.
Chamomile- Use as a swish to help soothe swollen gums, and reduces plaque to help protect teeth and gums from infection and decay. Is soothing for teething infants. Can be administered directly to infants in teaspoon doses, or the benefits of the tea can be transferred by a nursing mother to an infant via breast milk. Chamomile may also be possibly effective in treating or preventing mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
Clove- Clove oil as a medicament. A clove bud can be placed on a painful spot in the mouth and reduce the pain. Fights bad breath, throat infections, and gum disease. There is evidence that the eugenol in clove oil is effective at fighting several known oral bacteria. Medicines containing eugenol are widely used in dentistry.
Echinacea- Reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, and helps fight infection in the mouth while stimulating the immune system. Echinacea plants contain an impressive variety of active compounds, such as caffeic acid, alkamides, phenolic acids, rosmarinic acid, and polyacetylenes which all fight oxidative stress.
Goldenseal- Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, good for infections, bad breath, or any acute oral condition. Goldenseal contains berberine, which might have effects against bacteria and fungi, in addition to containing high amounts of anadine and hydrastine. These phytochemical alkaloids produce a powerful astringent effect on mucous membranes, reduce disease-causing inflammation and have antiseptic effects.
Horsetail- The highest contained form of silica, which is an essential ingredient for healthy teeth and bones. Horsetail is most often used in its powdered form, but it is also sometimes chewed fresh. It strengthens and repairs teeth, fixing them firmly in their sockets, and even allows for the regrowth of enamel. This trait of strengthening carries over to the other supportive and connective tissues of the body, such as bones, tendons, and skin.
Myrrh- Antimicrobial. In one test-tube study, myrrh oil at a low dilution of 0.1% killed all dormant Lyme disease bacteria, which can persist in some people after antibiotic treatment and continue to cause illness. A tincture placed on the tooth relieves pain in less than a minute. Heals gum tissue. Rosemary Gladstar, a significant energy in the resurgence of herbalism in America, suggests for a toothache a combination of equal parts of organically grown myrrh, goldenseal, and turmeric. She suggests powdered herbs and adding a drop of clove oil to make the powder into a thick paste before applying it topically as need be.
Neem- Sticks of neem were used as a natural toothbrush due to their strong antibacterial properties. Reduces plaque prevents cavities and gum disease and freshens breath. You can easily add powdered neem to your usual toothpaste. The bark is more potent than the leaf. A 2017 study in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practices reported that neem mouthwash was as effective as toxic commercial mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine gluconate, a substance commonly prescribed in general dentistry.
Peppermint– Of course, any list of herbs for dental health wouldn’t be complete without peppermint! It freshens breath and may help to whiten teeth, too! You can literally chew on a fresh sprig. Our elders often plucked mint leaves after having food; it was a common belief that these leaves act as mouth fresheners and digestive aid. Turns out, mint leaves also keep your oral health in check. The essential oil in peppermint is effective in killing anaerobic bacteria, which tend to live in low-oxygen environments. These bacteria cause gum diseases and other oral health problems. Menthol, a compound that is present in peppermint, causes a cooling sensation.
Sage- Aromatic, spasmolytic, antiseptic astringent properties that may treat throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums, and mouth ulcers. It tightens gums and calms a sore mouth. Sage contains over 60 beneficial compounds and substances, which tackle a variety of different health problems. A sage-based mouthwash was shown to effectively kill the bacteria Streptococcus mutans, which is the main bacteria in dental plaque responsible for the development of cavities.
Spilanthes- The toothache plant. Calms throat issues, tooth pain, swelling, gum disease, and decay. When chewed, it has a numbing effect on the mouth. This local anesthetic effect is due to spilanthol, the plant’s main active ingredient. It also has plant compounds called flavonoids. The flavonoids reduce prostaglandins, which interfere with your perception of pain.
Yarrow- Rinse with or drink as tea. Yarrow is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic/anti-microbial, and astringent which causes tightening of body tissues. It is both styptic, which stops bleeding, and also has the ability to support healthy blood circulation. All of these make it extremely helpful in preventing and healing gum disease.
White willow bark- White willow is the original Aspirin, and has the same indications as its synthetic counterpart, without added chemicals. Famous as the original source of salicylic acid (the precursor of aspirin), white willow and several closely related species have been used for thousands of years to relieve pain. It can be decocted or incorporated into a poultice, taken internally as a tincture, applied directly to the gums, or externally on the skin.
Yes, there is a time, a place, and a person where allopathic medical interventions are needed. It is a reactive form of medicine for times of crisis, acute illness, and injury. If we could revert back to holistic knowledge, where the focus is intervention, a lot of modern-day diseases would be nonexistent, perhaps less common or at the very least less severe. Nature provides our bodies with everything we need to heal, and prevent disease. Herbs can seem scary if you’re not familiar, but over time you will learn, remember, and see the magical benefits of these amazing, nutrient-packed healing remedies.
To your health,
Jennifer Corrigan, RDA
Dr. Kayleigh A. Short DMD, formerly of Integrative Dentistry in Seattle, is your top choice for holistic dentistry, and cutting-edge care available to the greater Seattle area, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, Monroe, Snohomish, Duvall, Whidbey Island, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Everett, and surrounding areas. Washington State, nationwide, and worldwide we are available for telemedicine holistic dentistry consults. For the best care in Seattle for holistic dental and natural holistic facial aesthetic needs. We diagnose complex dental health cases, that other dentists turn away. Contact us today or schedule an appointment to discover how we can help optimize your oral health and support your wellness journey. -Dr. Kayleigh Short and the WDC Team
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