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Although a source of fear for most people, a regular trip to the dentist is a necessary practice for good oral hygiene and disease prevention.
Ever since I was old enough to remember, I visited my dentist twice yearly. Each visit would involve an inspection of my teeth, a thorough cleaning and a vigorous blood-inducing floss. At the end of it, my gums slightly sore and my teeth squeaky clean, my diagnosis had always been a clean bill of health and for the last 33 years, I have been cavity-free– knock on wood. Could it be due to good oral hygiene, good genes or naturopathic medicine practices? It probably entails a little bit of all three factors.
Naturopathic Medicine in Dentistry?
When we think of our teeth, we seldom think of naturopathic medicine. This is unfortunate because natural medicines can be very effective in treating certain dental conditions and in preventing common dental complaints. How about naturopathic medicine in cavity prevention?
Cavities, also referred to as caries, are holes in the two outer layers of the tooth, i.e. the enamel and the dentin. The enamel is the outermost white hard surface while the dentin is the yellow layer just beneath the enamel. These layers protect the inner tooth tissue called the pulp, where blood vessels and nerves reside. In general, small cavities don't cause pain, but larger cavities may cause a toothache due to irritation from accumulated food, bacterial toxins, sensitivity from hot or cold foods and from sour/sweet foods.
Regular brushing and regular trips to your dentist are effective means for preventing cavities. Avoidance of sugar, particularly in children and adolescents, is also a good preventative measure. We know that sugar causes tooth decay as the bacteria that form together to become plaque use sugar as a form of energy. And, you don't want to fuel the bacteria that eat away at your tooth enamel and dentin.
Probiotics and Cavities
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, a probiotic (“healthy bacterial strain”), has been shown to antagonize bacteria. A study was conducted on 594 children, aged one to six, where some children received milk containing Lactobacillus GG and others received normal milk five days per week. After seven months, the results showed less dental caries in the Lactobacillus GG group and that Lactobacillus GG significantly reduced the risk of caries. The researchers found that this effect was strongest in children aged three to four.
Tea and Cavities
In addition to containing antioxidant properties, green and black tea may also prevent cavities when used as a mouthwash. A small study found that a mouthwash of green and black tea with sodium lauryl sulfate, a surfactant and emulsifier, significantly increased antimicrobial activity which may prevent cavities.
Other Naturopathic Tips
• If you have trouble with plaque, sensitive teeth and bleeding gums, calendula-based toothpastes seem to work well.
• If you fear a trip to the dentist, try the homeopathic remedy Aconite in a 30C dose or a few drops of Rescue remedy for calming your nerves.
• To ease pain from dental treatments, take 30C of homeopathic Arnica and Hypericum before and after your treatment. In combination, these remedies will decrease nerve pain and tissue pain from most dental procedures.
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