Plants for healthy teeth and gums

Our day started with taking young Hugh to the dentist. I was devastated to learn that one of his six year old molars had a huge cavity because his enamel had not formed properly - apparently a tooth where this problem occurs often.  Some of his other teeth seem also to have patchy enamel so he will need to be super careful with these. 

I thought we eat a pretty good diet and Hugh is good brusher, so possibly something happened when his teeth were forming when he was very young - a fever, an ear infection...? 

As you can imagine, the rest of today I have been exploring ways to help remineralise his teeth and to maintain good oral hygiene.  I am fascinated by what I found in my searching today, and this I imagine is just the beginning...

Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)

I love Holy Basil. I have it growing throughout my garden for it's health benefits and as a plant which supports the garden system. It is a prized plant in India - well known for its many medicinal properties. I have been told many times by Indian workshop participants that it is recommended that every household has a holy basil plant.  I have been reading that for teeth, it has strong antibacterial action and it helps prevent gum disease, plaque and bad breath.  To use it, finely crush dried leaves and brush teeth with this. We might also just munch on leaves and make a mouthwash.

Holy basil - chew leaves, make a mouth wash, dry and crush leaves and make into a toothpaste.

Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Liquorice can prevent the buildup of mouth bacteria and protect against gum disease and cavities. It contains Glycyrrhizol A, a compound with strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. As an anti-inflammatory, it can also help to soothe mouth ulcers. It can be used by gently massaging teeth and gums with sun-dried licorice powder or by just chewing on a root . Liquorice is a herbaceous perennial legume from southern Europe, India, and parts of Asia. This I don't have in my garden - so I am now looking for somewhere I can take a cutting from.

Neem (Azadirachta indica)

My research reveals that munching on a few raw neem leaves can kill bacteria in the mouth and eliminate bad breath - it also gets rid of plaque that builds up on teeth and gums. Hugh might try this as a novelty, but I can't see him doing it daily.  An anti-bacterial mouthwash can be made by soaking neem leaves in hot water - Hugh could manage this. I think I will make a blended mouthwash with a range of plants. Another novel thing Hugh might like is making a traditional-style toothbrush using a neem twig. Some people think it is more effective than a regular toothbrush. Dried ground neem leaves can be added to a home-made tooth powder - that sounds promising.  I have a neem tree growing at home - slowly but surely.  I will be visiting it shortly!

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric has been used for a long time in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. It contains curcumin, which has antioxidant, anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is a rich source of some vitamins and minerals important for re-mineralizing teeth, such as Vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium, and Selenium.  One idea I read was to chew on a piece of fresh organic turmeric root, using as many teeth as possible, for 2-5 minutes and the spit into trash or compost, followed by rinsing out your mouth thoroughly.  I'm not sure Hugh will do this, so blending this into the toothpaste too may be the way to go.

Turmeric grows easily from a fresh piece of root. This 5kg monster grew in my garden. Store in a shady bucket of sand until you need it.

Some other things we will try are:

Eucalyptus Oil

The active ingredient present in eucalyptus oil, cineole, kills the harmful bacteria responsible for bad breath. It is also improves oral health by reducing plaque formation, strengthening gums and preventing any gum bleeding. We will add a drop of eucalyptus oil onto our toothbrushes and experiment with a few drops in our mouthwash.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has potent anti-microbial properties that can help gum infections. It also freshens bad breath. Similarly to eucalyptus oil, we can just add drop on our toothpaste before we brush or rinse our mouth by gargling a mouthwash with a few drops added.

Saline Solution

Salt naturally disinfects and removes swelling. A good way of using salt is by mixing a teaspoon of salt into ½ cup dissolved warm water ind swilled around in the mouth well  for about a minute. 

Home-made tooth paste

As well as trying all these things, I am going to make a special tooth paste with Hugh as soon as I gather all the ingredients. Our first experiment with be with activated charcoal, bentonite clay, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus oils, with dried neem and holy basil leaves and coconut oil. We might also add a little calcium carbonate powder, xylitol and cinnamon.  We'll experiment, research more and let you know how we go.  Hugh can give feedback on the child-friendliness of the flavour.

Other ideas?

I am very interested to hear in any successful tooth enamel building methods you have encountered suitable for a 7 year old boy.

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