Cavities, or dental caries, are a stage of tooth decay that results from a combination of bacteria and sugar in the mouth. The bacteria consume the sugars and release acid that erodes the surface of the teeth. Once decay reaches this stage, professional dental work is required to clean out the cavity, fill and seal it.
The most common conventional methods of preventing cavities are brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and drinking fluoridated water. Now many people are concerned about health risks associated with chronic ingestion of fluoride, and about the mercury in some dental fillings. Thus interest in natural methods of cavity prevention is growing.
Natural Cavity Prevention
Xylitol is a sweetener used as an alternative to sugar. It is approved by the FDA as a substance that does not promote tooth decay, possibly because it starves the bacteria that cause decay. It is considered safe for diabetics. Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol or put a few drops of xylitol in water to help improve dental health and prevent cavities.
A component of natural licorice root, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, has been shown to prevent tooth decay by disabling the plaque-inducing bacteria Streptococcus mutans and S. sobrinus. In fact one company offers sugar-free "herbal lollipops" made with this substance, and claims that 10 days of use will fight bacteria for 3-6 months.
Both green and black tea contain substances that have been shown to inhibit bacteria that cause tooth decay. Drinking tea regularly in addition to other preventative measures can help reduce the incidence of cavities.
Neem is antibacterial and can help remove plaque as well as improve gum circulation. It is now included in some natural toothpastes. You can add neem oil to toothpaste or dilute it and used as a mouth rinse.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil (melaleuca) is also commonly added to natural toothpastes, available in natural food stores. It is antiseptic and kills bacteria in the mouth.
A variety of supplements can aid in cavity prevention. Coenzyme Q10 increases oxygen to gum cells, while Vitamin B6 improves the ratio of good oral bacteria to bad bacteria. Vitamin C helps build up resistance to decay-causing bacteria. Grape seed extract may also be beneficial for preventing cavities.
Including turmeric, coriander and garlic in foods on a regular basis can help prevent cavities, as can reducing consumption of soda and other sugar-filled drinks. One holistic dentist recommends a variety of fresh vegetables, including asparagus, kale, celery, and carrots as essential for dental health and cavity prevention. Eating a healthy balanced diet with lots of organic raw foods can build up the body’s systems and decrease incidence of cavities and gum disease.
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Sources & Resources
Natural Remedies: Nondrug Healing Strategies that Work Best, Prevention Health Books for Women
Dr. Earl Mindell’s Natural Remedies for 150 Ailments, Earl Mindell