As part of the holistic and biological dentistry approach to dental care, there are herbals which are useful as natural ways to promote good dental health.
Most of us have experienced the cleansing of a salt water rinse after a dental appointment or during times of mouth pain. The gentle swishing of the water and the abrasiveness of the salt cleanse and promote healing.
This being said, there are many wonderful herbs that you can add to your salt water-rinse to take it to another level and address the more individual challenge you may be having. A good time for a salt water rinse is 3 to 5 minutes, but if you have a bit more time on your hands you may want to consider the technique of oil pulling.
Oil Pulling - A Natural Option for Dental Health
Both an Ayurvedic technique and traditional Western folk medicine, the technique known as oil pulling is an effective way to promote general dental health or respond to challenges in the mouth and throat. It is also believed to be a good tool for supporting asthma and diabetes mellitus.
Oil pulling involves swishing oil or a herb-infused oil (about 1 Tablespoon), in the mouth for 5-10 minutes with the intention of addressing the deep mucous membranes. Just swish it all around your mouth, then spit it out. Do not swallow it as it may be full of plaque and bacteria, and do not put it down the drain, but spit into the trash can.
Aim to increase the time swishing and as you get used to it you can swish up to 20 minutes. It may take a while to work up to this, but even a few minutes of oil pulling can be helpful. Dr. Mark McClure offers that the shower is an ideal setting for this procedure, although cautions you to spit the oil into the trash to avoid clogged pipes.
Consider oil pulling on an empty stomach and follow with a warm salt water rinse.
As far as which oil to choose, one of our dentist's uses sesame oil but others prefer using coconut oil due to its antibacterial properties. Both of these oils are cold-pulled which allows them deeper penetration into the mucous membranes, and selecting organic oil is always best. You can combine different herbs within the oil and even marry different oils for a customized treatment. Some benefits of oil pulling are fresher breath, reduced plaque build-up, soothing bleeding gums, and detoxifying the mouth.
Herbs to Add to a Salt Water Rinse or Oil Pulling
Cayenne – Also known as Capsicum or Chili Pepper, this spicy addition to your dental regimen will surprise you with its depth. It is a pungent powder, rich in Vitamin C and volatile oils. It is a counter-irritant and an anti-inflammatory, known to have analgesic (pain relieving) properties also. Those who suffer from chronic laryngitis will benefit greatly from this herb.
Chamomile – Herbs with volatile oils often are effective for mouth health and this pretty yellow flower is no exception. A strong choice to help heal a Canker sore, its properties include anti-ulcer, wound-healing and anti-inflammatory.
Clove - A traditional resource for helping with a toothache, clove oil contains volatile oils and triterpenes that make is a potent anti-inflammatory. Like oregano, it is both antibacterial and anti-fungal, and it is also an antioxidant and local anesthetic.
Green Tea – An herbal veterinary friend from Pennsylvania, Dr. Laurie Dohmen, highly recommends swishing or pulling with green tea for recovering from a dental procedure. She rinses all her animal patients’ mouths out with it after dental work, and points out that in humans we can also drink some of the tea to gain additional systemic effects. Traditionally this herb is a magnificent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Oregano – A favorite with those who do oil pulling, the volatile oils and pungent, bitter principles within this herb create a great healing effect in the mouth. Both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties promote cleanliness while the strong anti-inflammatory effect is ideal for swishing to address inflammations of the mouth and throat.
Peppermint – This herb is a favorite for promoting good breath. The volatile oils it contains penetrate deeply to address the flora of the mouth. It is a powerful antimicrobial and is ideal for use within a mouthwash.
NIHA biological dentists love to include natural options to help the mouth and body heal!