“Liquorice has shown efficacy in the treatment of various oral ailments including dental caries, gingivitis and bleeding gums. In clinical trials, its use has resulted in significant decrease in bacteria causing dental caries and gingivitis. Clinical studies with an objective to find herbal treatment of periodontitis have shown that the phytochemicals of liquorice prevent the binding of attacking bacteria to the host cells and are able to prevent infection by blocking it at its very first step,” says Dr Rohan Virani, Consultant dentist, Global Hospital, Parel [Mumbai].
Tooth decay is a common problem worldwide and has seen continuous increase to become a major health problem. Are you aware that more than 60 per cent children and almost all the adults suffer from dental cavities which are often a source of discomfort and pain. The problem is more prevalent in developing countries and India is also not far behind. According to a review done to assess the extent of the problem in India, it has been observed that more than half of the Indian children also suffer from this problem. That means if you have two children, there is a likelihood of at least one suffering from tooth decay. Bacterial plaque is considered to be the primary reason for increase in such incidents of tooth decay and we are constantly working on different options to maintain the well-being of our dental health.
Role of toothpastes in dental health
Toothpastes are the most commonly used vehicles for transfer of therapeutic and preventive active ingredients. All of us use toothpastes as a routine for maintenance of our oral hygiene. It is a proven fact that regular use of toothpaste not only limits the growth of dental plaque but also prevents tooth decay and other dental infections and diseases. However, there have been reports that some of these toothpastes may also be the source of some toxic chemicals which may cause mouth ulcers and other skin infections. Fluoride and triclosan are two such ingredients which have some serious implications.
This has led consumers to look for safer, equally efficient and economical options like herbal and “natural” toothpastes. Many herbs and herbal preparations have been described in ancient ayurveda texts for promoting oral health and prevention of dental diseases. These ingredients mentioned in the ancient texts are now being extensively studied and are also being used in toothpastes. An interesting fact is that not all toothpastes using the word ‘natural’ are 100 per cent herbal or natural and may contain chemicals like fluoride and triclosan. Hence, we have to be extra cautious while making a choice for the right toothpaste for our home.
Cinnamon – Optimising oral hygiene
Cinnamon is a well-known herb which has a wide range of benefits ranging from treatment of joint pains to various infections. Bad breath and salivary pH play an important role in the maintenance of oral hygiene. Studies have shown antimicrobial activities of cinnamon against oral pathogens that help in the prevention of tooth decay and dental cavities. Another clinical study has found cinnamon oil to be the most powerful among the 10 essential oils in the prevention of bad breath through its antibacterial activity against the bacteria responsible for bad breath. Cinnamon is also known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties along with a satisfactory level of safety.
Liquorice – A sweet solution for dental ailments
Deriving its name from the Greek words “glycos” meaning sweet and “rhiza” meaning root, liquorice has been an essential part of ayurveda treatment. Just like cinnamon, liquorice has a proven treatment record in a wide range of diseases such as tuberculosis and gastric ulcers. The anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-adhesive properties of liquorice make it a vital and potential herb for the treatment of multiple oral diseases as well including oral cancer.
Apart from these dental ailments, liquorice has also proved beneficial in the treatment of oral thrush and moth ulcers. If used in the prescribed limits, liquorice is considered to be a very safe option for human use.
Cinnamon and liquorice – A unique amalgamation
A combination of cinnamon and liquorice is a distinct blend which, through its matchless properties, can be a boon for the dental and oral health. Clinical studies have shown that this combination, through its action on the salivary glands, can stimulate the salivary flow leading to increase in its pH thereby preventing tooth decay, gum disorders and other infections of the teeth. These herbs due to their anti-diabetic properties keep the salivary glucose level in control, hence providing further protection to the gums and teeth.