Plus other dental remedies
Dentists are very good at repairing damage — filling cavities, removing diseased tissue, etc. The problem with conventional dentistry is that it mainly addresses symptoms — little attention is paid to the underlying causes of tooth decay and gum disease.
Example: In the US today, about 75% of adults show signs of gum disease. Conventional dentists treat it by removing damaged gum tissue and/or prescribing antibiotics. These measures work temporarily, but the problem usually comes back.
Natural approach: The bacterial infections that cause gum disease often are due to nutritional deficiencies, a weakened immune system or an imbalance in the body’s acid-alkaline chemistry. Most patients improve dramatically when they use natural approaches, such as herbs or dietary changes.
Here, natural treatments and/or preventive measures for the most common dental problems…
Note: All natural remedies in this article are available at health-food stores, unless otherwise noted. Always talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.
Basic oral hygiene, such as regular brushing, is unlikely to prevent tooth decay if the mouth environment tips the balance toward destruction. Reason: The teeth may appear to be rock-hard structures, but they’re surprisingly porous — and they undergo constant cycles of breakdown and repair.
Main cause of decay: Excess acidity. Saliva normally bathes the teeth in an alkaline solution. When saliva becomes less alkaline — often because of a high-fat/high-sugar diet — it makes the mouth more acidic. The acids strip away protective tooth enamel, a process called demineralization. At the same time, decay-causing bacteria proliferate in the high-acid environment.
Helpful: Test your saliva pH (a measure of acidity). Some pharmacies sell litmus paper that tests acidity. It is also available at swimming pool supply stores and pet shops that have aquarium supplies. If you test below 6.9, your mouth is excessively acidic.
To prevent tooth decay…
- Mix water with equal amounts of powdered alfalfa, dandelion and horsetail to make a mouthwash with the consistency of loose mud. It will provide a natural source of fluoride. Swish it around your mouth for about a minute a few times daily, then spit it out. The teeth absorb minerals — particularly calcium and magnesium — from the ingredients, making the teeth stronger and more decay resistant. The mouthwash also inhibits bacteria. You can make a few days’ supply and refrigerate.
- Eat at least five daily servings of fruits/vegetables. Along with other plant foods, they alkalize the body’s chemistry — even those that are acidic, such as citrus fruits. Produce also is high in vitamin C, which helps keep the body more alkaline, thus reducing the number of acid-loving bacteria in the mouth.
- Avoid sweets and simple carbohydrates. They remove minerals from the body — including teeth. Simple carbohydrates include most “white” foods — white bread, white rice, pasta, etc.
- Limit saturated fats from meat, dairy, etc. These produce acid, which further acidifies the body.
More people lose their teeth from gum disease than from tooth decay. The early stage, gingivitis, occurs when a bacteria-laden film accumulates on the teeth and beneath the gum line. The more advanced form, periodontitis, occurs when infection and/or inflammation of gum tissues is accompanied by tissue destruction.
Warning signs: Persistent bad breath… loss of bone and gums that bleed while brushing… and/or tender or receding gums.
To prevent and treat gum disease…
- Brush your teeth with a thick paste made from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. You can make your own — one day’s supply at a time. Or buy a toothpaste with these ingredients. Baking soda makes the mouth more alkaline, and hydrogen peroxide acts like a mild antiseptic.
- Take 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 daily. CoQ10 is a substance found naturally in the body. It strengthens gum tissue and improves the ability of the immune system to inhibit bacterial growth. Caution: CoQ10 may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood-thinning drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin).
- Mix equal parts tinctures of goldenseal, myrrh and calendula (about 30 drops of each). After brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with one teaspoon of the liquid and spit out the mixture. It inhibits bacteria, stimulates immunity and reduces inflammation. Store in a brown bottle — the tincture lasts longer when not exposed to light.
Most toothaches are caused by an infected nerve. Conventional dentists usually treat the infection with antibiotics and/or a root canal procedure — but that may not be necessary.
Decay can come close to the nerve chamber but not affect the nerve itself, causing a toothache. Ask your dentist if a sedative filling is appropriate. A sedative filling relieves pain and stimulates the formation of secondary dentin — tissue that can prevent bacteria from damaging the nerve. It works only in the earliest stages of tooth decay and is a temporary restoration intended to relieve pain. The sedative filling will eventually need to be replaced with a permanent filling, but you may have avoided the need for a root canal procedure.
Be aware that once decay enters the nerve chamber and the nerve is infected, root canal therapy is needed to save the tooth. See a dentist whenever you have discomfort from a tooth.
Until you can get to a dentist, the following can reduce toothache pain…
- Apply clove oil. Available in most pharmacies, it’s a fast-acting pain reliever. Clove oil can irritate gums, so dilute it with an equal amount of olive or vegetable oil. Soak a small piece of cotton with the oil mixture, and apply it to the affected area. The pain relief lasts about an hour — repeat as needed.
- Press firmly on the lower part of the “web” between your thumb and index finger, on the top of the hand on the side of the body with the toothache. This often gives temporary relief.
Just about any dental problem — tooth decay, gum disease, etc. — can cause bad breath. More often, it’s caused by a dental problem plus something elsewhere in the body. Persistent bad breath can indicate an underlying stomach, liver or intestinal problem. I’ve seen many patients whose mouths are spotless, but who still have bad breath. They need to be checked by a physician.
In the meantime: Use an herbal rinse to reduce bacteria that can cause bad breath.