The mouth is a mirror of the body. Oral health is crucial to overall body health. The most common oral disease is dental decay or dental cavities. Dental cavities occur when oral microorganisms or bacteria act on teeth. These bacteria utilize sugars sticking to tooth surface and produce acid. This acid breaks down tooth structure and causes it to lose tooth minerals. Loss of tooth minerals is called demineralization. This demineralization results in cavities or what we call dental decay or dental caries.
Dental caries or decay causing bacteria reside in a layer containing food debris, bacteria and proteins called dental plaque. This layer of dental plaque is the main cause of dental caries or decay and gum disease or gingivitis.
Oral health is dependent on a good diet and oral hygiene. There are many easy and natural ways to maintain oral health and reduce your chances of dental decay.
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11 Natural Ways To a Healthy Mouth
1. Neem (Azadirachta indica)
Neem is well known in mythology for its health benefits. These extend to oral health too. Neem extracts derived from its leaves, bark, flowers and seeds have antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Neem also contains trimethylamine, chlorides, nimbidin, azadarachitin, lectin, fluorides in significant quantities. These help in preventing dental disease. Neem is available in the form of mouthwashes or toothpastes containing neem. Chewing on neem sticks may also be used to remove dental plaque.
Tea is a popular beverage but you will be surprised to know that it has oral health benefits as well. It contains both fluoride as well as tannins, both of which have a role in maintaining good oral health. Green tea has antibacterial effects against bacteria causing gum disease (gingivitis). Tannins in tea provide astringent effect to promote gum health. Green tea also contains antioxidants such as polyphenols which boost the immune system. All these factors help in anti- dental caries effects of green tea.
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3. Miswak (Salvadora persica)
Miswak is an Arabic term that means chewing stick. It is a small tree or shrub going by the name Pilu as well. Miswak has several useful components that help maintain oral health such as flavonoids and benzyl isothiocyanate content. Miswak effectively removes dental plaque and prevents gum disease. It also has anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti dental plaque and anti viral properties which help in preventing dental decay. An easy way to incorporate miswak is by using toothpastes, mouthwashes and chewing sticks containing miswak.
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4. Honey bee extract or propolis
Propolis is a sticky or waxy substance derived from honey bees. It is also called bee glue or royal jelly. Propolis extract contains resins, vegetable balsams, waxes, aromatic oils, pollen, and different organic compounds. Propolis is well known for its anti microbial, anti inflammatory and anti bacterial action. The main component that gives it anti bacterial action is flavonoids. Propolis is widely used as anti- dental decay agent, anti- gum disease or gingivitis and also prevents tooth sensitivity.
5. Guava leaf extract (Psidium guajava)
Guava is widely used for its various health benefits such as liver protective, anti cancer and anti diarrheal roles. It extracts have a role in oral health as well. The leaves of guava contain phenolic compounds, isoflavonoids, gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, rutin, naringenin, kaempferol. These compounds, particularly flavonoids, have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and analgesic actions which help in maintaining oral health. Of particular use are guave leaf extracts as anti gingivitis (gum disease) and anti periodontitis (tooth supporting structure disease) agents.
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6. Oil pulling
Oil pulling (Gandusha) is an ages old Ayurvedic remedy to good oral hygiene. It technique is best practiced on an empty stomach, for about 20 minutes, three times daily. Oils such as coconut, olive, sunflower and sesame oils are generally used for this purpose. At the end of oil pulling, the milky and viscous oil becomes clear in color. The benefits of oil pulling include activation of enzymes in the saliva which absorb bacterial toxins. The oil coats the teeth and prevents plaque formation. Oil pulling helps to prevent dental caries by removing plaque and debris from teeth.
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7. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric (haldi in Hindi) is an underground stem of an herb, which is quite popular for its health benefits. Turmeric is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiseptic activity uses. Turmeric is used in dentistry for its role in reducing dental pain and for reducing dental plaque. It also has anti gingivitis and anti periodontitis effects. It is available as a mouthwash and also in tablet form.
8. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
Aloe vera is a succulent plant which is grown for its medicinal uses. It has a vast array of components such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, sugars and enzymes. Aloe vera has antioxidant, anti inflammatory and anti viral properties. It is used to promote oral health in and treat oral conditions such as oral lichen planus (a disease of oral mucosa), gingivitis, oral submucus fibrosis (oral mucosa tightening), periodontitis and oral ulcers. It is available as a gel, toothpaste or mouthwash.
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9. Babool (Acacia nilotica)
Babool is used as an anti dental decay agent. It has anti bacterial and astringent properties that help prevent dental caries and gum disease. And Babool leaf extract contains anthraquinones, flavonoids, tannins, and cardiac glycosides. The extract of the bark of a babool tree contains alkakoids, saponins, cardiac glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, and anthraquinones. The antimicrobial usefulness of babool extract is mainly attributed to these phytochemical constituents. Babool is commercially available as a toothpaste.
10. Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)
Clove (long in Hindi) oil has been traditionally used as an analgesic or pain reliever. A drop of clove oil on a piece of clean cotton may be used to relieve dental pain too. It should be applied on the affected area till pain subsides. The main active component of clove is eugenol. Clove may also be used directly on the affected area. Extracts of clove oil also have anti bacterial and anti inflammatory action too. Clove oil is available as a toothpaste or mouthwash.
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11. Papaya (Carica papaya)
Papaya (papita in Hindi) contains a natural enzyme called papain that helps to break down the harmful layer of dental plaque on teeth. It extracts have anti plaque and anti gingivitis effects. It is available in toothpaste and supplement form.
Good oral health ensures freedom form pain and infection. It also ensures that you have a sparkling smile. A beautiful smile will not only help you look attractive, but also give you self confidence in your appearance.
Stay healthy, keep smiling!
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