Although a basic routine of brushing and flossing daily is enough to maintain good oral health for many people, there is nothing wrong with adding additional steps or products into your oral-care routine if you think it may help you. If you are an herbal-medicine enthusiast, then you may not know about several little-known herbs that can improve your oral health. Get your dentist's seal of approval if you want to try one or more of these herbs to help ward off cavities and keep your gums in good health.
1. Neem Bark
Everything from the leaves to the bark of the neem tree have been used in herbal medicine for years. Neem oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal benefits when used topically. Neem oil and bark powders are available at herbal and health food stores be used as a topical treatment for many skin, hair, and nail problems.
People in India today still chew on neem twigs instead of brushing their teeth. Although you shouldn't swap your toothbrush for a stick of neem, there are neem toothpastes widely available that you can use to combine modern tooth-brushing with neem to obtain the benefits of both. The antibacterial properties of neem can help keep cavities away.
A clinical study also showed that a mouthwash that contained neem instead of the typical chlorhexidine used to treat gum disease was just as effective as the chlorhexidine version at treating gingivitis, which is the most common form of gum disease today.
If you want to help fight cavities more effectively, then it may be worth giving neem toothpaste a try. If you suffer from gingivitis and dislike the chlorhexidine mouth rinse you may have been prescribed by your dentist, then ask if you can give the neem version a shot.
2. Licorice Root
Chewing on sugar-filled candy licorice may be bad for your teeth, but incorporating herbal licorice root into your oral health routine is not. While you likely don't want to ditch your toothbrush and chew on licorice daily like this blogger, this is another herb you can incorporate into your oral health routine to ward off cavities and gum disease.
Licorice root contains two compounds called licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, which have been shown to help keep oral bacteria from growing. Unlike neem, licorice root is not only available in toothpaste, but you can also take it orally in supplement form.
Unless you want to experience the other health benefits of licorice root, it is likely best to stick with the toothpaste when using it only to improve oral health. It does have potential side effects that come with daily oral supplementation, including hypertension and low blood-potassium levels.
3. Bayberry Bark
Bayberry is another herb great for your teeth. The berries of this tree contain a wax used to make candles, so if the name of this herb sounds familiar to you, then you may recognize it from your candle collection. However, the bark is the part of the tree useful for oral health.
Bayberry bark is considered an astringent, which means it tightens the body tissues exposed to it. This makes it a great treatment for bleeding gums. This bark is often consumed in tea form, and the tea can help teeth and gums as it passes through the mouth. You can also purchase or make bayberry bark toothpaste or mouth rinse to help strengthen gum tissue weakened by gum disease.
There are few official studies on bayberry's effect on oral health, but there was a medical study showed it has potent antioxidant aspects and can reduce inflammation in the body. Since gum disease is a type of inflammation, it does make sense that it could be beneficial for gum-disease sufferers.
If you brush and floss daily, but you still don't have the perfect teeth and gums you want, then consider adding herbs into your routine to improve your oral health. Always speak to your dentist and doctor before trying new herbal supplements, mouth rinses, or toothpastes to make sure they have no interactions with current medications you may be taking.