Slowing the decay
Oral hygiene and the prevention of tooth decay are priorities for most people and when it comes to dental care, treatments are expensive and seldom covered by insurance or national health care plans.
Most of us at some time in our lives will get some degree of tooth decay, cavities or even gum disease. The most common cause of tooth decay is the consumption of sugar. This substance is so toxic that young children given unlimited access to soft drinks even lose their baby teeth to decay and great numbers of teenagers lose their teeth due to sugar, and other dietary or lifestyle habits.
Other factors that increase the likelihood of cavities besides sugary foods and drinks includes eating disorders, malnutrition, breathing through one's mouth which is characteristic of people who snore and insufficient cleaning or oral hygiene.
Tooth decay usually occurs due to bacterial infections that cause the demineralisation and destruction of the hard enamel surface that protects our teeth. Once the enamel has been penetrated, bacteria eat into the tooth but pain is not felt until such time as they reach the nerve and blood supply inside the tooth.
Any tooth pain is a signal to head off to the dentist and have the affected tooth repaired. This involves drawing out the affected area and filling the hole with one of the many filling solutions. But this is only a stopgap measure because unless diet and lifestyle habits are changed, repeated infections are likely.
Oral care tips
At the onset of any tooth ache, one of the first and best remedies while waiting to get treatment is to use a clove or clove oil to numb the pain. Cloves have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antibacterial properties that can help to alleviate the pain and inhibit the bacteria from further damaging the tooth.
- For treatment simply suck on a whole clove keeping it as close to the affected tooth as possible.
- Two or three drops of clove oil and a quarter teaspoon of sesame or other oil and damp some of this solution on the affected tooth to 3 times a day as required.
Salt is a natural antiseptic and it's often helpful after brushing to rinse one's mouth with a saline solution because the salt kill off any harmful bacteria. When the toothache is present, gently rubbing salt or a brine solution over the affected tooth and surrounding gums will inhibit further decay.
- A saline solution is made by dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Then squish the solution around in your mouth concentrating on the affected tooth and repeat this to 3 times a day.
- You can also make the half teaspoon of salt and a little mustard oil lemon juice to make a paste. Massage this into the gums and teeth for a few minutes to 3 times every day and wash with warm water.
Oil pulling is an age-old practice that can reduce cavities, maintain gum health and prevent bad breath. It helps to clear the mouth of harmful bacteria that are responsible for different dental problems.
- To do this, swish a tablespoon of sesame or coconut oil in your mouth every morning before breakfast for about 20 minutes. Then spit it out without gargling or swallowing the oil. Afterwards rinse your mouth with warm or saline water and brush your teeth as usual.
Some people swear by garlic because it is rich and antibacterial and and to properties. It is said to inhibit the bacteria that form cavities and promote healthy gums.
- To use garlic, make a paste from three or four garlic cloves and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Apply it to the affected tooth and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing with a saline mouthwash.
- You can also rub garlic oil onto the affected tooth for quick pain relief and some say eating raw garlic helps to keep your teeth healthy.
Some people also think that licorice root helps to keep teeth healthy. It contains two antibacterial compounds that can help prevent tooth decay and plaque build-up.
- Simply use licorice root powder to brush your teeth and if you can get it, you can crush one end and use licorice root like a toothbrush.
Tumeric it is another commonly used product especially within ayurveda. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help to keep the gums healthy.
- To use, simply apply tumour powder on the affected tooth, leave it for a few minutes and rinse well with warm water.
- Another option is to mix a half teaspoon of tumour powder with a little mustard oil and massage your teeth and gums with it. Rinse off and spit out after 10 minutes.
Neem is another popular remedy for treating cavities and maintaining dental health. Its antibacterial properties destroy unhealthy bacteria while supporting strong teeth and healthy gums.
- Rub the juice of neem leaves on the teeth and gums, then rinse off with warm water after a few minutes repeating two or three times a day.