Australians spend an estimated $6.7 billion on dental care every year. In spite of this, Australia is ranked 18th out of 21 OECD countries for dental health. What's the solution to this problem? Many natural health therapists argue that nature already provides us with the solution in the form of natural remedies for dental health. Some of them are preventative measures we can use to maintain dental health and others are treatments for existing dental problems. One thing they all have in common is that they are inexpensive and, according to many researchers, highly effective.
Natural Remedies for Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by the build-up of plaque on the teeth. If left untreated, the gums become inflamed and bleed when brushing or flossing. Called gingivitis, it is a common disease in Australia. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to the more serious periodontitis. There are many inexpensive natural treatments for gum disease that can stop gingivitis in its tracks:
- The link between vitamin C and gum disease is well documented. Long before modern scientific research methodology was available, sailors took limes to sea with them to prevent their gums from bleeding. More modern researchers have discovered that people who are vitamin C deficient are much more likely to contract gum disease than those who include plenty of vitamin C in their diet.
- Vitamin D, aside from being essential for strong teeth and bones, has anti-inflammatory properties and can help prevent gingivitis. Many studies show that people with sufficient vitamin D in their blood stream are less susceptible to gum disease than those who are vitamin D deficient.
- Cranberry juice not only contains high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants, it can actually help prevent the bacteria associated with the build-up of plaque from adhering to the teeth. Because many brands of cranberry juice contain very high levels of sugar, it is probably better to buy cranberry juice from a natural foods store or distributor.
- Tea tree oil (also called Melaleuca oil) can reduce the severity of gingivitis, according to at least one study. Essential tea tree oil, however, is not advised. Tea tree oil toothpastes are available at many health food stores and other natural personal care product providers.
Another natural remedy for gum disease is stress relief. Although not usually associated with gum disease, a German study discovered that a control group of students who were under exam stress showed significantly higher levels of plaque and gingivitis than a group of students who were not experiencing stress. It is worth noting that this occurred over a period of just 8 weeks. This suggests that stress reduction techniques such as meditation are also natural remedies for dental health.
Natural Remedies for Tooth Care
Conventional wisdom tells us that when a cavity appears, it will just continue to grow until acids eat through the teeth, a nerve is exposed and a rush trip to the dentist is required. Many natural health researchers question this conventional wisdom, arguing that it is possible to prevent decay altogether or stop its progress. Noting that indigenous cultures suffered from greater tooth decay after switching from their natural diet to a processed foods diet, they asked why this occurred. Questioning the conventional theory, that acids in refined sugar were responsible, they looked more deeply and discovered that:
- Food processing robs foods of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K as well as many minerals essential for dental health.
- Sweet natural foods (fruits, carrots and others), while containing important nutrients, should be consumed in moderation because their sugars can contribute to mineral loss in bones and teeth. Indigenous cultures ate these foods only when they were in season and only in limited quantities.
While these theories are controversial, many people who have switched from diets high in processed foods to more natural diets have discovered a corresponding decrease in tooth decay and gum disease. While more research is needed, there is little debate about the importance of natural nutrition. Of course, regular brushing and flossing are still necessary, but research into natural remedies for dental health strongly suggests that natural remedies for dental health may be what Australia needs most to move up the ranks of healthy nations and reduce the ballooning cost of dental care.Originally published on Mar 01, 2013