To maintain healthy teeth and gum, we are always told to brush at least twice daily with a good toothpaste, use dental floss, Water Pik, and mouth wash. What else can we do to enhance our teeth and gums naturally? We can look at the Chinese herbal ways of maintaining dental health.
One reason we have bad teeth is from the modern, refined diet. We are eating too much pre-packaged junk food and not enough whole food that contains various nutrition we need. Refined sugar and carbohydrate weaken our teeth gradually.
To treat the root of the problem, we have to look at the different syndromes individually. It is a good idea to consult a Chinse medicine practitioner to clarify your condition and get the custom herbal formula to take internally. For example, the age-related loose tooth is very different from an acute toothache in a young patient. An elderly patient could have kidney deficiency with empty fire. The treatment principle would be to nourish kidney and reduce the empty fire. For acute pain from Stomach fire or external heat, strong cooling and detoxing herbs should be used.
Surgery and extractions can solve many problems immediately, but without treating the cause, the symptom will come back later again and again.
Besides taking custom herbal formulas from licensed practitioners, here are some external oral rinse and herbal toothpaste recipes we can use at home. Most Chinese herbs (raw or granule) can be found online or at local Chinese herbal stores. Most of the formulas are modified from various old books. Try and see which one works best for you.
1. Tea rinse (green tea, black tea, Oolong tea….)
– any natural tea without added sweetener or milk is a good mouth wash to keep balanced PH level and reduce bacteria growth.
2. 20% salted water
– approximately 20% salted water makes a good oral rinse. Salt is naturally antibacterial. Use as a gargle if you have a sore throat or cold sore.
Toothpaste and external rub:
1. Sang Zhi (Mulberry Twig), Ginger, Xi Xin, Chuan Xiong:
Cook with water until pasty. Brush teeth with it daily. It should clean teeth and reduce any pain or swelling.
2. Salt and Xing Ren (Apricot kernel):
Use Salt and Xing Ren in 4:1 ratio. Grind them into powders to be used as toothpaste daily. It should clear up yellow or brown stain on the teeth.
3. Long Dan Cao 45g, Qiang Huo 30g, Di Gu Pi 30g, Sheng Ma 1.2g:
Grind all herbs together into fine powders. Rub the teeth and gum with the power, and brush teeth with this powder. It strengthens the loose teeth in the elderly.
4. 30g each of Da Huang, Shi Gao, Gu Sui Bu, Du Zhong and Salt, Ming Fan (alum) 15g, Dang Gui 15g:
Grind all herbs into a powder. Rub into gum lines and leave for a few minutes. Brush and rinse out with water. It helps with Kidney blood deficiency with stomach fire causing loose teeth or a toothache.
5. Salt 30g, Xiang Fu Zi 15g, Pu Gong Yin 30g:
Grind all together into a powder. Use as toothpaste to brush teeth daily. It strengthens the teeth for the elderly.
Other commonly used herbs for oral health
- Ma Chi Xian – clears damp heat and toxic fire.
- Lian Zi – nourishes the heart and calms the Shen.
- Sheng Di Huang – clears heat, cools the blood, purges fire, nourish yin
- Shi Gao – clears excess heat, drains stomach fire, heals sores and wounds
- Bo He (Mint) – disperses exterior wind heat, regulate digestion, vent rashes, and moves the Qi.
Some people are more prone to teeth and gum disease no matter how frequent you brush the teeth and use different products. It is important to find out your unique body type or constitution and treat accordingly by taking herbs internally and apply herbs externally. Do more research and consult a qualified herbalist. There is no one solution to fit everyone all the time. Learn more about your health pattern is a good start in preventing future disease and letting us take charge of our health again.