Tooth decay and periodontitis (inflammation of tissues that support teeth) are probably amongst the most common conditions worldwide. Natural toothpastes and mouthwashes can support healthy oral health via multiple mechanisms including inhibiting oral pathogenic bacteria and subsequent plaque formation, aiding healthy tissue growth, reducing inflammation and supporting small blood vessel integrity.

A wide range of plant extracts can be used to inhibit the pathogenic processes that lead to tooth decay, gingivitis and other periodontal disease. Recent studies include:

  • Drinking green tea may inhibit plaque formation via polyphenols (Liu et al., 2000; Rasheed and Haider 1998)
  • Liquorice has been shown to inhibit plaque formation and inhibit decay via antibacterial and antiinflammatory effects  (Salkowitz, 2012; Gazzani etal., 2012; Messier et al., 2012; Hu at al., 2011; Sasaki et al., 2010)
  • Gum tissue- strengthening polyphenols are found in plants such as bilberry, hawthorn, grape seed extract (Singh and Purohit, 2011)
  • Xylitol chewing gum: There are many studies on the plaque-reducing effects of xylitol chewing gum (e.g. Bahador et al., 2012; Kauko et al., 2008)
  • Manuka honey: A human trial of 60 young adults showed manuka honey to be as effective as the antibacterial chlorhexidine  contained in mouthwashes (Prathibha et al., 2010)
  • Frankincense was shown to reduce inflammation in gingivitis (Khosravi et al., 2011).
  • Plants shown to reduce oral pathogenic bacteria are Aloe vera gel (Fani and Kohanteb, 2012), Garlic (contains allicin) (Gilad et al., 2011), propolis (Pimenta et al., 2004), pomegranate (Somu et al., 2012), the essential oils of peppermint and rosemary were shown to be more effective at inhibiting bacterial oral biofilms / plaque than chlorhexidine (Rasooli et al., 2008; Shojaedin et al., 2008)
  • Probiotics aid healthy oral bacterial balance by reducing cariogenic bacteria numbers (e.g. Shyamali et al., 2012; Bizzini et
    al., 2012)
  • Grape seed extract (containing proanthocyanidins which increase collagen cross-linking) was shown in vitro to increase remineralization / decrease demineralization of tooth caries (Xie et al., 2005)



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Fani M, Kohanteb J.Aloe vera gel at optimum  concentration could be used as an antiseptic for prevention of dental caries  and periodontal diseases.  J Oral Sci.  2012 ;54(1):15-21. PMID: 22466882

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Hu CH, He J, Eckert R, Wu XY, Li LN, Tian Y, Lux R,  Shuffer JA, Gelman F, Mentes J, 2011 Development and evaluation of a safe and  effective sugar-free herbal lollipop that kills cavity-causing bacteria. Int J  Oral Sci. Jan;3(1):13-20. doi: 10.4248/IJOS11005.

Khosravi Samani M, Mahmoodian H, Moghadamnia A,  Poorsattar Bejeh Mir A, Chitsazan M. 2011The effect of Frankincense in the treatment  of moderate plaque-induced gingivitis: a double blinded randomized clinical  trial. Daru. 2011;19(4):288-94.

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Messier C, Epifano F, Genovese S, Grenier D.  2012Licorice and its potential beneficial effects in common oro-dental  diseases. Oral Dis. Jan;18(1):32-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2011.01842.x.

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