Alternative medicine has been practiced around the world for centuries, and is now a popular and growing field in the United States as well. Herbal and alternative medicine has its place in health care when used properly and responsibly and in conjunction with professional supervision. There is no substitute for seeing your dentist on a regular basis to have your teeth professionally cleaned, and your gums, mouth and teeth evaluated for disease.
The conditions for which possible herbal remedies exist for are often symptoms of disease and should be reported to your dentist if they persist. A dry mouth which can cause tooth decay is often a side effect of medications such as antidepressants and can be treated with Echinacea, multiflora rosa, or capsicum in mouthwash or toothpaste form. Bad breath that is not being caused by gum disease and bacteria on the tongue can respond to alfalfa tea, chewing parsley, or using mouthwash or toothpaste with clove, fennel seeds, myrrh, rosemary, or wintergreen. Inflamed or irritated gums can be soothed with topical application of aloe vera gel, chamomile, eucalyptus oil, evening primrose oil, goldenseal, red clover or tea tree oil. Mouth sores can be medicated with topical application of horsetail, goldenseal, myrrh, rockrose, or sage in poultice, salve or compress. Headaches and muscle tension associated with TMJ Disorder can be relieved with burdock poultice and herbal teas. Anxiety before dental appointments can be lessened with sage, chamomile, wood betony, sarsaparilla, skullcap tea or valerian capsules. Valerian should not be used in conjunction with any other sedatives.
Do not try to treat an abscess with herbs. Abscesses are serious dental infections that typically are caused by very deep decay or advanced periodontal disease. It is important to have an abscess evaluated and treated by a dentist as soon as possible, and even more quickly if swelling or fever is present. An abscess can be a dangerous health problem if the infection spreads into your blood stream and antibiotic therapy is a must in these cases.
The judicious use of herbal remedies for select dental conditions can provide relief in many cases. When using herbs it is important to do some research, use the proper dosage, and to take them with food if the herb is taken internally. Choose a product that is tested and lists its ingredients on the container. Products that have the American Botanic Council seal are a great place to start. Only take one herb at a time as herbs can interact with each other in unfavorable ways just like traditional medications can. Always check with your health care provider before combining herbs with prescription or over the counter medications, and be sure to see your dentist every 6 months!