There is very little emphasis on oral health in developing countries like India where dental diseases are a major burden especially in rural population. Are you aware that more than half of the population in India suffers from dental caries and other structures surrounding the teeth irrespective of the age. The connection between oral diseases and systemic diseases such as diabetes and various heart related disorders has been proved beyond doubt. With rapid urbanization and related changes in diet and nutrition during the last few decades we are noticing a rapid increase in the prevalence of oral disorders with more than 50% of the children suffering from dental caries and as high as 90% adults suffering from diseases of gums and dental roots.
Use of traditional medicines for dental care
In India and many other countries of Asia and Africa, herbal treatment remains the most popular form of treatment for various diseases. In India, Ayurveda has been the principal system of medicine since ages. Although dentistry has not been defined as a separate branch, it has been taken care of through the use of a rich heritage of herbal plants.With fresh research uncovering new information, there is growing concern for the use of chemicals and synthetic products in our routine use products of personal hygiene such as toothpaste and mouthwash.
“With the herbal formulations we have an advantage in terms of absence of chemical ingredients such as fluoride and triclosan which may cause certain side effects such as staining, taste alterations and undesirable hormonal changes”, says Dr.Bhairav B. Kulkarni Tawshikar, MD – Ayurveda Medicine.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are dental infections associated with deposition of plaque and accumulation of harmful bacteria on the surface of teeth.7 There have been multiple studies which have confirmed efficacy of herbal toothpastes to be at par with non-herbal toothpastes in reducing gingivitis and plaque formation.Hence, herbal toothpastes can provide us with a better option having comparable efficacy and minimal side effects.
Amla – A divine herb
Amla or Indian gooseberry is classified among the most potent herbs in Ayurveda which has multiple benefits. According to the beliefs of Indian mythology, Amla was the first tree to be created in this universe.
“Amla plays a significant role in dental health due to its significant antibacterial and astringent properties. Presence of tannins and flavonoids provides it with potent anti-inflammatory and astringent properties” says Dr Rohan Virani, MDS(OMMFR) MIFL(GERMANY), AFFLIATE ICOI,
Consultant Global Hospital, Parel.
In a clinical study, its efficacy, along with the dried fruit of harada, in preventing dental caries has been found to be comparable to chlorhexidine with lesser time of action. Amla provides this anti-caries effect by increasing salivary pH and inhibiting the common bacteria responsible for caries.6
Vajradanti – A gift of nature for oral diseases
Vajradanti, as the name suggests, means teeth as strong as Vajra or diamond, the strongest substance on earth. The protective and curative properties of vajradanti have been well defined in Ayurvedic texts and it has been extensively used to treat bleeding gums and toothaches. The crude extract has been found to be effective against dental caries.7 Chlorhexidine, in spite of its known side effects such as temporary loss of taste and staining of teeth is looked upon as the “gold standard” of antimicrobial rinses. A clinical study comparing vajradanti bark with chlorhexidine evaluated that both vajradanti and chlorhexidine significantly reduced plaque formation with comparable efficacy.8 Hence, a toothpaste containing vajradanti instead of chlorhexidine can serve as a good substitute to synthetic toothpastes providing adequate protection to teeth and gums without any major concerns of side effects.
Herbal Toothpastes – A safe and natural solution for dental problems
Symptoms such as fresh bleeding result from inflammation of the gums. Inadequate dental hygiene resulting in plaque formation leads to this inflammation. Through their anti-inflammatory activity these herbs can not only successfully treat various dental disorders but can also control associated bleeding and inflammation. Both amla and vajradanti have antidiabetic properties as well. Once these herbs get absorbed through oral-transmucosal route and enter systemic circulation, they cause reduction in saliva glucose, hence promoting good oral health.
One important point that needs special mention is the use of the word “natural”. Many “natural” and herbal tooth pastes in the market today have additional synthetic ingredients such as fluoride and triclosan along with the herbs and may not be as safe as they appear.4 Therefore, be a smart consumer and choose your toothpaste carefully to avail the maximum benefits out of our rich expanse of traditional health system.
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