The word “cavity” probably brings back traumatic memories of the dentist chair for most of us. The bad news is that us adults aren’t immune to cavities either. Cavities are tiny holes that develop on the surface of the tooth. Often this is caused by bacteria that feed on the sugars and produce acids which erode the teeth. Masses of this bacteria can collect on the teeth and form dental plaque. Eventually, this leads to tooth decay. Here are some natural ways to fight these bacteria and the damage they cause.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is used in a method called oil pulling which pulls bacteria off the teeth. Coconut oil is used because it is particularly effective against the strain of bacteria that causes cavities.1 It can prevent gingivitis, plaque, bad breath, and its even said to whiten your teeth a little.2 Take a tablespoon of organic coconut oil and swill it around in your mouth for 20 minutes. This may seem like a long time, so try it for 5 minutes at first. The longer your swish it around, the more bacteria you pull out. Do this first thing in the morning. Then brush and floss as normal.
2. Clove Oil
Clove oil is popularly used in Ayurvedic medicine for dental health. It’s a natural antimicrobial and antibacterial action.3 It’s also a painkiller.4 So if your cavity is already starting to hurt, you can use clove oil to get some relief until you can get it checked out. Just put a few drops of clove oil onto a cotton swab and put this on the painful spot in the teeth or gums.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has antibacterial properties which have been shown to be effective against gingivitis and plaque. Those who regularly used aloe vera mouthwash showed a lower risk of developing both of these conditions. It was even as effective as a commercial antiseptic.5 Simply mix together pure aloe vera juice with a little bit of water to loosen it. Use as you would, a regular mouthwash.
Turmeric is another ayurvedic spice that’s incredible for dental health. Studies show that it can help reduce the likelihood of developing gingivitis and reduce plaque buildup thanks to its antibacterial properties.6 Turmeric is also sometimes used a teeth whitener. That seems counterintuitive when you look at its golden color, but it seems to work! Simply mix a teaspoon or so with enough coconut oil to make a paste. Brush your teeth as you would with toothpaste and leave for 3–5 minutes before rinsing out.
Black tea and green tea have compounds in them called catechins. These are compounds that can inhibit the growth of the bacteria and their acid production.7 A cup of tea can actually help maintain dental health but just make sure not to add any sugar to it.
Foods To Avoid
Sugar is obviously one of the main causes of plaque because it provides food for the bacteria to feed on. The worst culprits are gummy sweets and hard candies like lollipops that stick around in the mouth for a long time. This makes it easier for the bacteria to stick around too.
2. Refined Carbohydrates
Things like white bread, pasta, potato chips, and crackers have the same effect as sugar. Even without their risk to dental health, they’re not the best things to be feeding your body anyway.
3. Soft Drinks
Soft drinks not only contain sugar but enough corrosive elements like phosphorus which stain the teeth and wear away the enamel. Stay away from these if you want to maintain healthy teeth.
4. Acidic Foods
Citrus fruits, pickled vegetables, and other acidic foods should not be kept in the mouth for too long.
Even with all of these preventative measures, if you do experience a toothache or suspect a cavity, do see a dentist. Early intervention is key to treating a cavity.
|↑1, ↑2||Peedikayil, Faizal C., Prathima Sreenivasan, and Arun Narayanan. “Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis—A preliminary report.” Nigerian medical journal: journal of the Nigeria Medical Association 56, no. 2 (2015): 143.|
|↑3||Chaudhari, Lalit Kumar D., Bhushan Arun Jawale, Sheeba Sharma, Hemant SharmaCD Mounesh Kumar, and Pooja Adwait Kulkarni. “Antimicrobial activity of commercially available essential oils against Streptococcus mutans.” The Journal ofContemporary Dental Practice 13, no. 1 (2012): 71-74.|
|↑4||Asl, Mina Kamkar, Ashraf Nazariborun, and Mahmoud Hosseini. “Analgesic effect of the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of clove.” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine 3, no. 2 (2013): 186.|
|↑5||Kumar, Gupta Rajendra, Gupta Devanand, Bhaskar Dara John, Yadav Ankit, Obaid Khursheed, and Mishra Sumit. “Preliminary antiplaque efficacy of aloe vera mouthwash on 4 day plaque re-growth model: Randomized control trial.” Ethiopian journal of health sciences 24, no. 2 (2014): 139-144.|
|↑6||Nagpal, Monika, and Shaveta Sood. “Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview.” Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine 4, no. 1 (2013): 3.|
|↑7||Goenka, Puneet, Aditi Sarawgi, Vinayak Karun, Anant G. Nigam, Samir Dutta, and Nikhil Marwah. “Camellia sinensis (Tea): Implications and role in preventing dental decay.” Pharmacognosy reviews 7, no. 14 (2013): 152.|