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Preserve Your Teeth: Nutrients & Other Beneficial Substances

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Written by   433
8 months ago (Last updated: 4 months ago)

In this article, we will look at some substances that are good for teeth & gum.

Xylitol

Xylitol is sometimes called birch sugar, or wood sugar, because the Finnish first got it from birches, although it naturally exists in several fruits, berries and cereals as well. It is in fact a sugar alcohol which is sweet and can be used as a substitute for sugar. As a sweetener it is useful for diabetics, since it only very slightly affects the level of blood sugar.

Unlike sugar, it does not stimulate dental caries (decay), but it can actually help to repair minor cracks and cavities. It makes the environment in the mouth more alkaline, blocks the growth of harmful bacteria (like those causing decay), and leaves the normal healing process by saliva undisturbed. It is excellent for caries and plaque prevention!

Apart from that, it seems to have the same ability to block the growth of harmful microbes in the ears and in the nose - possibly effective for fungi as well (insufficiently studied), and to improve bone density.

The dental effect of xylitol was discovered and has been studied in Finland, a country traditionally known for unusually numerous cases of caries. Xylitol is welcomed there as the ultimate solution to the caries problem. They claim that long-term regular use of small amounts of xylitol might even permanently prevent caries. Such strong statements should always be taken with some doubt, but the effect is unquestionable.

For your dental health, I recommend that you use a toothpaste with xylitol and take a chewing gum with xylitol after each meal.

Xylitol is laxative and large amounts can cause diarrhoea.

Do not give anything containing xylitol to your dog! It will get VERY ill and possibly die!!

Fluoride

Fluoride is controversial. While many studies and observations show that it is good for caries prevention (making the enamel harder and stronger), there are quite serious dangers involved.

There is no doubt that fluoride in suitable doses is important to dental health. Overexposure during childhood, however, especially up to an age of 5, can cause fluorosis, a damage of the enamel. So it is important to be very restrictive with the use of fluoride in children.

Dental fluoride is inorganic. While a suitable amount of this fluoride on the surface of the teeth will have a considerable effect against caries, inorganic fluoride should never be swallowed. We need a very small amount of fluoride internally, but it should be covered by organic fluoride only. For most people this is easily covered by their food.

Internally, inorganic fluoride can seriously harm a large number of body functions, even cause accelerated ageing. A good toothpaste should contain it, and (if you are over 5 years of age), you can rinse your mouth with it regularly - but always spit it out afterwards. The use of tablets, etc., is not recommendable, since they would make you swallow all the fluoride.

Fluoridation of drinking water is madness. If possible, avoid drinking such water! Unfortunately, the drinking water is fluoridated in about 60 countries, and if you happen to live in one of them it is hard to avoid it.

Spices & Herbs

If you have a temporary bleeding gum and/or inflammation – you can chew thyme, or myrrh, or rinse your mouth with strong tea of chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) or of root from tormentil (Potentilla tormentilla), which is sometimes called septfoil, or bloodroot.

Certain medical drugs can destroy the effect of the latter, but otherwise it is extremely efficient.

Minerals and vitamins which are of special importance to the teeth/gum:

Calcium

Magnesium

Manganese

Molybdenum

Zink

A (retinol is better than beta carotene)

B1 (thiamine)

B2 (riboflavin)

Nicotinic acid (A form of B3)

Pantothenic acid

C

E

P (bioflavonoids)

Co-enzyme Q10

I decided to refrain from dosage suggestions here. The bottom line is that everyone needs a general supplementary program, covering the full range of vitamins and minerals.

Treatment of an existing problem would need extra intake of certain nutrients, even megadoses. Before you apply that as a self-treatment, however, make sure you know what you are doing.

Miswak

Ever since humans discovered that they need to clean their teeth, various plants have been used for that purpose; usually as toothpicks or chewing sticks, which were used already during the old high cultures, such as Babylonia, Egypt and India.

The toothbrush is commonly held to stem from the chewing sticks that were used in Babylonia already 5-6000 years ago, but it is impossible to say where its use began. Chewing sticks [called qisa in Aramaic, miswak or siwak in Arabic, qesam in Hebrew, koyoji in Japanese, kayu sugi among the Malays] are still used in many regions of the world, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Various plants have been or are being used. Beyond the purely mechanical massage and scratching off of residues, their efficacy is determined by their chemical composition. The ideal plant provides fluoride to strengthen the enamel, and compounds stimulating a sound oral microflora, the latter preventing plaque, decay and gum disease. An extra advantage might be a content of vitamins and other beneficial nutrients.

The most illustrious plant in this context is Salvadora Persica [Arabic arak, Urdu peelu]. Its use is spread over a huge geographical area, from Malaysia and India in the east, to southwestern Africa. Its spreading is probably associated with the spreading of Islam, where it plays a prominent role. The prophet Mohammed recommended it. According to a Hadith he said “[...] Miswak is purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking the acceptance of Allah."

There are several other ahadith quoting him about miswak. For example:

Abu Hurairah narrated: The Messenger of Allah said, "Had I not thought it difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the miswak before every Salat [prayer]. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Umar narrated: The Messenger of Allah said: Make a regular practice of the miswak, for verily, it is healthy for the mouth and it is a Pleasure for the Creator ." (Bukhari)

But the use of miswak is older, and was certainly an established practise long before the advent of Islam. Today, however, its use is in decline, especially in the cities. In many countries, also Muslim ones, it is hard to find people who regularly use miswak. This might be a mistake, scientific studies of Salvadora Persica have proved its efficacy, and if used correctly, it is better than ordinary brushing with toothpaste in most aspects (the toothpastes it has been compared to have been without xylitol).

Salvadora Persica is beneficial for the microflora, just as xylitol, even if that effect seems to be a little weaker. If you live where miswak is available but xylitol is not, I suggest you use the former.

Other, non-oral, effects that are sometimes mentioned is that miswak would strengthen the memory and the eyes. This is possible, but there is no scientific or anecdotal evidence of that.

The best way to use miswak is the traditional way, but it must be learned how to do it correctly. Then I would recommend ordinary brushing once a day and using miswak once. That way you get the best of both worlds.

A modern way to use miswak is to use a toothpaste containing Salvadora Persica (sometimes labelled as miswak, sometimes as siwak). Several brands are produced in the Middle East, and might be available also in, for instance, Europe, in areas with many Muslim immigrants. This is not the best way to use miswak, but it is better than nothing.

If you use toothpaste with miswak, try to find one containing real S. persica powder rather than merely extract or essential oils.

Another type of chewing sticks (sometimes called derum) are made from walnut tree, Juglans regia. Usage is less spread and the research done on it is very limited, but it has been shown to reduce caries and plaque. The walnut tree is a very pharmacologically potent plant; I suspect that most of its effects on oral health are still undiscovered.

Other plants favourably used for chewing sticks include but are not limited to neem or the nimtree (Azadirachta indica), also a pharmacologically extremely potent plant, as well as various species of Citrus.

Some studies have been made on neem twigs as chewing sticks. Just as miswak, they have proved to have a stronger positive effect on oral and dental health than “ordinary” tooth-brushing. Extract can be found in some brands of toothpaste in India, but just as is the case with miswak, using the real thing in the traditional way is better. Neem has the same type of normalising effect on the microflora of the mouth as miswak and xylitol.

Read the whole series:

1. Dentistry - A Modern Luxury? Why Do We Need It?

2. Preserve Your Teeth: Nutrients & Other Beneficial Substances

3. Take Care of Your Teeth: Hygiene, Prevention & Reparation of Damage

4. Animal Teeth, Sabre-Toothed Tigers & Dragon's Teeth

5. Supplement to Teeth: Etymology & Glossary

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Written by   433
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