Discover 4 natural ways to combat gingivitis and dental plaque
(NaturalHealth365) While maintaining good oral health may not be the most glamorous of activities, it is essential to overall health and well-being. Inadequate oral hygiene – the failure to brush and floss effectively – can lead to the formation of sticky bacterial plaque and cause gingivitis, an early form of gum disease. If untreated, gingivitis can progress to more serious periodontal disease – featuring gum inflammation, pain, and even the eventual loss of precious teeth.
Fortunately, you can combat plaque and protect gum health with a variety of natural, non-toxic mouthwashes – the therapeutic effects of which are backed by scientific research. Let’s look at four of the most promising.
Promote gum health with lemongrass mouthwash
Lemongrass essential oil, derived from the plant botanically known as Cymbopogon flexuosus, is strongly antibacterial – thanks to its concentration of a compound known as citral. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, researchers found that a lemongrass mouthwash worked better than mouthwash containing chlorhexidine (considered the “gold standard” of gingivitis treatments in Western dentistry) in reducing plaque.
Another “plus” for lemongrass oil is that it seemed to accomplish this without causing the unwanted side effects that can accompany chlorhexidine use – such as discolored teeth and alterations in taste. It’s important to remember, though, that a little lemongrass oil goes a long way. Integrative healthcare practitioners advise mixing no more than two to three drops of lemongrass essential oil in eight ounces of water. Swish the mixture around in your mouth for 30 seconds, then spit. Repeat the process two to three times a day.
Reduce plaque and enhance gum health with warm saltwater rinses
Believe it or not – a simple solution of sea salt and warm water can be a useful weapon against inflamed gums. This traditional remedy is backed by science, with a double-blind study published in PLOS One supporting the use of saltwater rinses to promote healthy gums. A natural disinfectant, sea salt not only helps kill pathogens but also helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
Simply dissolve half a teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of lukewarm water, swish the solution for 30 seconds (being careful not to swallow it) and spit. You can repeat the process up to three times a day. There is one “catch,” however. Experts warn that using a saltwater rinse too often or for too long could damage tooth enamel. Check with your biological dentist for guidance on the frequency of use.
Tea tree oil mouthwash contains powerful plaque-fighting compounds
Tea tree essential oil, derived from the leaves of the tree botanically known as Melaleuca alternifolia, contains a pair of “secret weapons” against dental plaque – the antibacterial compounds terpineol-4 and 1,8-cineole. In a 2020 study published in the European Journal of Dentistry, scientists reported that a tea tree oil mouthwash improved plaque index and reduced gum bleeding.
The team concluded that tea tree oil was an effective, non-toxic substitute for chlorhexidine. As with lemongrass oil, tea tree oil must be well diluted in water. Use three drops of tea tree oil per cup of warm water, swish for 30 seconds, and spit the solution out. Repeat two to three times a day.
Support gum health with antibacterial coconut oil
For centuries, Ayurvedic practitioners have advised oil pulling to promote dental health. Today, many integrative health practitioners affirm the usefulness of this ancient practice, particularly when performed with coconut oil. Studies support the ability of coconut oil to inhibit Streptococcus mutans, the bacteria implicated in tooth decay, plaque buildup, and gum disease.
In addition, coconut oil is believed to help alleviate halitosis – or bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth – as well as soothe and moisturize gums and promote the healthy production of saliva. The simple process involves swishing a teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil in the mouth for 15 to 20 minutes. Spit the oil into a paper towel and dispose of it in the trash (coconut oil can clog sinks), rinse your mouth with water, and thoroughly brush your teeth.
Don’t forget – the first step in attaining a healthy mouth is effective oral hygiene. Brush teeth at least twice daily using an electric toothbrush with soft bristles, and floss daily. And visit your dentist at least once a year. (Of course, contact your dentist immediately if you have severe symptoms – such as pain, swelling, or bleeding).
Everyone wants sparkling teeth and pink, healthy gums. When used in conjunction with good oral hygiene, these natural mouthwashes may help you achieve them.
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