Let’s face it, your mouth is nasty. There are those mouths you can look at and just know they aren’t…quite…healthy, but even the pearliest whites are harboring a secret. There are more than 750 species of bacteria that make their home in our mouths (newer studies show as many as 25,000 species of bacteria). Before you run to the sink to brush, know that not all of them are bad. As a matter of fact, in a healthy mouth, the good bacteria outnumber the bad. And in case you weren’t aware, your body is teeming with bacteria that help keep your system in balance. Yogurt companies are making a fortune off this fact by promoting products with probiotics (good bacteria). So what about the bad guys?
The bad guys in your mouth are those responsible for not only periodontal disease, bad breath, cavities and mouth ulcers, but they can, in fact, make your whole body sick as well. Pneumonia, cardiovascular disease and even pregnancy complications have all been linked to unwelcomed strains of bacteria entering the body and blood stream through the mouth. That’s not including common illness such as cold and flu, sore throats and stomach illnesses. An unhealthy mouth can lower your overall health and reduce your resistance to disease. Makes you want to go brush now, doesn’t it?
Have no fear! There are some herbs that can help facilitate the destruction of those bacterial strains colonizing in your oral cavity! Most of them you may already have.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil doesn’t taste nice. But, in my opinion, many over the counter mouth washes are like rinsing your mouth with gasoline. Tea Tree Oil isn’t thatbad. It’s proven to kill bacteria and viruses on contact and stimulates circulation in the
gums. Tea Tree Oil is inexpensive and a little goes a long way. It’s a main ingredient in many herbal toothpastes and mouth rinses, and for good reason. It helps in the treatment of gingivitis, cancer sores, thrush and aids in the treatment of periodontal disease. It won’t, however, reduce the plaque already adhering to your teeth, so brushing is important. It will help reduce the bacteria responsible for the formation of new plaque.
Tea Tree Mouth Rinse
1 ¼ cups of distilled water
10 drops of one of either: cinnamon, peppermint, wintergreen or clove oil
10 drops of Tea Tree Oil
Pinch of stevia (sweetener) *optional
Pour mixture into a container (old mouthwash bottle) and shake well.
Keeps on bathroom counter indefinitely. If you don’t have cinnamon, peppermint or stevia, no worries, the rinse is just as effective without it and many herbal mouthwash recipes don’t even include it. It’s primarily for taste. Contrary to many store-bought mouthwashes, this rinse is alcohol free and kid friendly, although I would advise reminding the children not to swallow any mouthwashes.
¼ cup baking soda
2 tsp. fine salt
15 drops of your choice: cinnamon, peppermint, clove or wintergreen oil
Mix together into a small jar. Add a small amount to the palm of your hand and wet as needed for toothpaste.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Turmeric is used to fight inflammation and boost immunity and is the go-to herb for mouth ulcers for many herbalists. A pinch of turmeric, wrapped in gauze and held against the gum will assist in putting that ulcer to bed and get you back to feeling much better.
Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
Clove gets its pain fighting power from eugenol which acts as highly effective topical anesthetic.Clove oil is used for temporary relief against tooth or gum pain. Apply directly with a cotton ball.
Peppermint (Mentha xpiperita)
Peppermint is one of the key ingredients of mouthwashes and toothpastes. Menthol is main flavoring agent in mint which acts as an excellent mouth freshener. To freshen your mouth throughout the day, add a few drops to a small glass of water and swish!
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage has strong astringent properties hence it is beneficial in tightening the gums and curing sore mouth. Chewing on a sage leaf (yes, right out of the garden) releases those properties into your mouth, fighting sore gums and freshening you breath.
There are plenty of other proven mouth freshening, germ fighting herbs to try for better oral health. Neem, Thyme, Myrrh, Goldenseal and Echinacea are some you may find worth trying. They are time tested and laboratory approved means to help with many common issues concerning dental health. In an attempt to keep it simple, look for common items above that you may already have and give it a try Add some of the not-so-common items later. Your smile with thank you..and those closest to you will too.
Steph, where do you get all this? Ahh, reasearch my dear! Check out some of the fascinating studies I found:
http://cwru-daily.com/news/?p=4971- Article from Case Western Reserve University
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88948/- Case study on Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infections
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/680354/- Traditional Medicinal Plant Extracts and Natural Products with Activity against Oral Bacteria from the Environment and Biotechnology Centre, Australia.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14622345- Case study on Susceptibility of oral bacteria to Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil from School of Biomedical and Chemical Sciences Microbiology Dept.