Ayurvedic treatment for Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay

Know More on Oral Care

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Tooth Decay Ayurvedic treatment

Dental cavity, also known as tooth decay or caries, is a commonly occurring condition, which affects six out of ten adults in India. Despite of its widespread occurrence, tooth decay can be prevented easily. If left untreated, tooth decay may cause pain, infection and loss of tooth.1-2

The main reason that cavities occur is due to tooth decay. The bacteria present in the mouth can form a sticky film called plaque on the surfaces of teeth. Plaque bacteria thrive on food rich in carbohydrates and sugar, causing the formation of plaque acid. This plaque acid eventually dissolves the protective enamel surface of the tooth as well as the underlying dentin, creating a cavity. The dentin is the inner structure of the tooth, which when exposed may cause the teeth to become very sensitive. The tooth may become infected if the cavity reaches the centre of the tooth called as the pulp. This may cause extreme pain and may need a dental root canal or complete extraction of the tooth.1,3

Tooth decay is caused by complex conditions known as dental caries. Dental health or danta swasthya in Ayurveda is specific for each person and differs with individual prakriti or constitution. Tooth decay is also influenced by kala-parinama or the climatic changes resulting from solar, lunar and planetary influences.4

Causes

Tooth Decay

Some causes which increase the risk of tooth decay include:5

  • Consumption of foods that are high in carbohydrate and sugar content
  • Lack of sufficient saliva in the mouth (Saliva protects the teeth from decay by washing away food and harmful sugars)
  • Presence of certain conditions or medicines that cause dry mouth 
  • Breathing through mouth
  • Conditions such as diabetes
  • Other factors such as smoking, using tobacco, or inhaling second-hand smoke

Symptoms

Tooth Decay

In the initial stages of formation of a cavity, there may be no symptoms at all. As the cavity gets larger and starts to decay, it may cause the following signs and symptoms:6

  • Toothache
  • Sensitivity in the teeth which may cause a mild to sharp pain when exposed to something hot or cold
  • Noticeable holes or pits in the teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining on surface of a tooth
  • Pain while biting down food

Diagnosis

Tooth Decay

Dentists easily diagnose the presence of tooth decay by:6

  • Asking the patients about toothache and sensitivity
  • Carrying out an examination of the mouth and teeth of the patient
  • Checking for soft areas in the teeth using dental instruments to check for soft areas
  • Examining dental X-rays, which can detect the extent of cavities and decay

Management

Tooth Decay

The predominance of one or more of the three physical humors or the doshas i.e, wind (vata), bile (pitta) and phlegm (kapha) defines the body constitution. Overall health care, including dental health is determined by the presence of a specific dosha in an individual and in nature. Management of diseases in Ayurveda involves a combination of a variety of herbal medicines (aushadhi), diet changes (ahar), and lifestyle changes (vihar).4,7

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Decrease intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Consume foods that are rich sources of calcium
  • Make a mixture of turmeric, salt and mustard oil to make a paste, and rub it on teeth and gums.
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Toothache associated with dental cavities can be effectively prevented by using til, cinnamon and clove oil
  • Toothache can be relieved using a clove of garlic with rock salt, pinch of pepper powder mixed with clove oil or a paste of the bark of bay berry prepared with vinegar

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Maintain a good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums clean
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking since they may cause dental problems
  • Chew on fresh herbal sticks in the morning as well as after every meal to prevent diseases. These herb sticks should be either ‘kashaya’ (astringent), ‘katu (acrid), or ‘tikta’ (bitter) in taste. The method of using these sticks is to crush one of its end, chew it, and eat it slowly. The neem (margosa or the Azadiraxhta indica), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), miswak (miswaak, siwak, sewak) etc. are some examples of herbal sticks
  • Use a herbal tooth powder made up from neem powder and salt
  • Gargle with salt water to prevent tooth decay and its progression to tooth abscess. Fill your mouth with comfortable amount of fluid and create a motion by a stream of air from the lungs. Take half a teaspoon of rock salt or sea salt in a cup of warm water and gargle to prevent tooth decay
  • Oil pulling is a procedure involving swishing of oil in oral cavity for oral as well as systemic health benefits. Oil pulling can also be used in case you are unable to brush due to mouth ulcers, fever and indigestion

FAQS

Tooth Decay
  1. How Can Toothaches Be Prevented?

Ayurveda suggests simple diet and lifestyle changes to prevent toothaches. They are as follows:

Diet

  • Sticky substance which may adhere to the teeth should be avoided
  • Food containing sugar and other sweets should be avoided
  • Fruits like guavas, oranges, pomegranates and other fruits of the citrus family are beneficial as they contain vitamin C which strengthens gums
  • Amla must form the part of the diet since it contains the largest amount of vitamin C and is easily available

Lifestyle

  • Maintain a good oral hygiene. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly and frequent rinsing of the mouth
  • Make a habit of rinsing the mouth after every meal
  • Use natural oils and extracts from clove oil for toothache. Dab a cotton ball in clove oil on the affected tooth and gently bite down. The natural properties of clove oil can help relieve tooth pain and prevent future cavities and bad breath
  • Using saline water to rinse the mouth after meals helps in curing toothache and even other tooth-related problems
  • Mix equal amounts of pepper, salt and few drops of water to form a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area to relieve toothache
  1. What causes teeth to hurt?

Some of the common causes of toothache includes:

  • Dental decay
  • Dental cavities
  • Swelling of the pulp
  • Tooth infection
  • Broken tooth
  • Exposed tooth root
  • Crack in the tooth
  • Consumption of food rich in carbohydrates and sugar like colas, candies, cakes, etc
  • Consuming hot and cold food together
  • Gum disease
  1. What is plaque?

Plaque is the sticky film or mass of bacteria that grows on the surface of the teeth. It is most noticeable when teeth are not brushed and makes teeth feel rough/fuzzy to the tongue.

When food containing carbohydrates and sugars such as soft drinks, raisins, cakes, or candy are frequently left on the teeth, it leads to the development of plaque. Mouth is full of bacteria which thrive on these food particles producing acids. These acids destroy tooth enamel over a period of time resulting in tooth decay. The development of plaque on the tooth under gums may cause breakdown of the supporting bone present underneath.

In Ayurvedic literature, dental conditions are referred as Danta sharkara, since the appearance of plaque is similar to the sugar coating over the teeth with a granular shape. It is a disease characterized by, hardened accumulation of mala on tooth surface which destroys the teeth and its surrounding structures and is accompanied by bad odour. Vitiated vata takes the form of thick adherence like the thick sugar syrup causing the manifestation of Danta sharkara.

  1. How do I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

Following tips can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy

  • Avoid sugar rich food, hard food, non-vegetarian diet food which will cause the built up of tartar and worsen the problems of dental plaques.
  • Green tea, intake of easily digestible and foods with less fat and carbohydrate prevent the formation of tartar.
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Regularly practicing flossing, proper tooth brushing, oral rinsing and regular oil pulling helps to get rid of the plaque efficiently and further prevents the formation of tartar
  • Herbs such as nutmeg (Jatiphala), Triphala (Hareetaki, Vibheetaki and Amalaki) and Saindhava lavana can be made into a fine powder and rubbed well to the teeth. This helps to clear the tartar
  • A mixture of ashes of ginger, long pepper, black pepper and salt can be used for brushing the teeth. Turmeric can be added to this mixture in case of bleeding gums
  1. Can side effects of medications cause dry mouth?

The causes of dry mouth can be attributed to the following:

  • Certain medications
  • Aging
  • A blocked nose
  • Stress
  • Cancer therapy
  • Nerve damage
  • Other health conditions such as immune disease (Sjogren's syndrome) or HIV/AIDS.
  • Tobacco use
  • Drug abuse
  1. What types of foods and beverages should I avoid if I have dry mouth?

Avoid spicy foods and avoid excess coffee, tea, sodas and alcoholic drinks

  1. What’s causing my sore throat?

Sore throat may be caused by the following:

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Smoking
  • Shouting
  • Allergies
  1. What can I do to make my throat feel better?

Ayurveda recommends the following:

  • Drink plenty of warm fluids, such as teas, soup, and water
  • Hot lemon and honey, honey and cidar vinegar, herbal teas, ginger juice or carrot and apple juice, elderberry juice, blackcurrent tea or juice are all effective during infection which also improve immunity and helps relieving sore throat
  • Daily supplements of teaspoon of cod liver oil, 100 mg vitamin C tablets every 2-3 hours or 2 garlic capsules every two hours can be given until the patient is well again
  • Give plenty of rest to your throat and try not to talk
  • Avoid day sleep since it may lead to Kapha build-up, leading to worsening according to Ayurveda
  • Avoid exposure to cold breeze, water etc.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene
  • Gargle every few hours using a solution of quarter teaspoonful of common salt or yavakshaara dissolved in half a glass of warm water or decoction prepared from the bark of Acacia (Babul) tree
  1. Is triphala churna an effective remedy for the treatment of mouth ulcers?

Yes, as mouth ulcers are most commonly associated with constipation.  In case of such a situation, use of a mild laxative such as Triphala choorna is advised which will give some relief.

  1. Are there other steps I can take to prevent tooth cavities?

Ayurveda recommends few tips as follows:

  • Decrease intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Consume foods that are rich sources of calcium
  • Make a mixture of turmeric, salt and mustard oil to make a paste and rub it on teeth and gums
  • Consume plenty of raw vegetables
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene to keep your teeth and gums clean.
  • Avoid smoking and excessive drinking since they may cause dental problems
  • Chewing on fresh herbal sticks in the morning as well as after every meal to prevent diseases. These herb sticks should be either ‘kashaya’ (astringent), ‘katu (acrid), or ‘tikta’ (bitter) in taste. The method of using these sticks is to crush one of its end, chew it, and eat it slowly. The neem (margosa or the Azadiraxhta indica), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), miswak (miswaak, siwak, sewak) etc. are some examples of herbal sticks
  • Use of an herbal tooth powder madeup from neem powder and salt

References

Tooth Decay
  1. Tooth Decay. Available at: http://patient.info/in/health/tooth-decay. Accessed on: 28 August 2016.
  2. Patro BK, Kumar BR, Goswami A, Mathur VP, Nongkynrih B. Prevalence of dental caries among adults and elderly in an urban resettlement colony of New Delhi. Indian journal of dental research. 2008 Apr 1;19(2):95.
  3. What causes tooth decay? Available at: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/tooth-decay. Accessed on: 28 August 2016.
  4. Telles S, Naveen K V, Balkrishna A. Use of Ayurveda in promoting dental health and preventing dental caries. Indian J Dent Res 2009; 20:246
  5. Oral Care. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/tooth-decay-topic-overview. Accessed on: 28 August 2016.
  6. Cavities/tooth decay. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/basics/definition/con-20030076?p=1 . Accessed on: 28 August 2016.
  7. Mishra LC. Scientific Basis for Ayurvedic Therapies. 2004: MA; CRC Press
  8. Sangeetha K.M., Srinivasa Sagar B, Rashmi G. Chour, Rohan Talathi. Ayurveda and Dentistry, J of Ayurveda and Hol Med (JAHM).2015;3(1):23-25.
  9. Torwane NA, Hongal S, Goel P, Chandrashekar BR. Role of Ayurveda in management of oral health. Pharmacognosy reviews. 2014 Jan 1;8(15):16.

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