The use of our favorite herbal preparations, mouthwashes and toothpastes, as well as a little first aid, is a valuable addition to even the best care.
PHOTO: JENNIFER MALER
The Home Remedies column shares information on how to create your own household remedies, this issue covers natural and herbal dental care.
Good oral hygiene is, of course, the product of regular dental checkups and cleanings. In between such visits, the use of natural and herbal dental care using our favorite herbal preparations, mouthwashes and toothpastes, as well as a little first aid in the temporary treatment of canker sores and toothaches, is a valuable addition to even the best care.
We all know about halitosis or bad breath. Although not the only source of the problem, at least one of the causes is bacterial action on food in the mouth. Besides regular brushing, the use of herbal mouthwashes can make us sweeter company for others. Here are some tried and true recipes.
Mix 1 teaspoon each of rosemary, peppermint and lavender. Mix the herbs well and then place 1 teaspoon of the mixture in a cup of boiling water. Steep 15 minutes, then strain. Cool and use as a mouthwash.
Mix 2 teaspoons of sugar, 3 drops of peppermint oil, 3/4 teaspoon of boric acid solution and 4 cups of water. Add food coloring if desired. Put into a quart bottle and shake well. Remember not to drink, just gargle.
Pour 2 cups of boiling water over 3 tablespoons of angelica seeds. Add peppermint, lemon verbena, caraway and rosemary for extra strength. A touch of orris root will perfume the breath with the smell of violet. Cover and steep until cool. Strain and store in a tightly closed container.
Combine 3 drops of cinnamon oil, 2 drops of clove oil, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 3/4 teaspoon of boric acid solution to 4 cups of water. Place in a quart container and shake well.
A very simple mouthwash with antiseptic properties can be made by combining 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of boiling water. Let it cool and store in a jar in your medicine cabinet. Some homemade toothpastes can be used as effective cleansing agents for teeth and can promote general oral hygiene. Try the following:
Cut a fresh strawberry in half and rub your teeth and gums with it. Leave on for 15 minutes, then add some warm water and gently brush. This is not only a good cleaner but promotes health of the gums.
Take lemon rind and rub your teeth and gums, massaging your upper gums downward and your lower gums upward. This helps to remove plaque and tartar.
Mix 1/4 teaspoon of glycerin, 1/4 teaspoon of neutral soap powder, 1 tablespoon of calcium carbonate, 1 teaspoon of acacia (gum arabic) and 2 drops of oil of peppermint. To this mixture add 10 ml of water. Heat and stir for 5 minutes and note the pasty appearance. Each substance has a specific purpose in this formula: glycerin, the sweetener; calcium carbonate, the abrasive; acacia, the thickener; soap, the cleansing agent; and oil of peppermint, the flavoring agent.
Canker sores in the mouth may be caused by bacteria or viruses, by chemical irritants such as alcohol and tobacco, or by gastric upset. There are numerous herbal preparations which can help to clear up these painful sores.
Boil a tea bag in water and apply it to the affected area for 5 minutes.
Swish a couple of tablespoons of oil of myrrh in your mouth, concentrating it at the site of the canker sore.
Boil a tablespoon of cankerroot in a cup of water. Strain and apply this to the canker sore. The very name of this plant suggests its ancient use among herbalists.
A good mouthwash for canker sores can be made by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of thyme. Steep for 15 minutes, and it's ready to use.
Toothaches are indicative of a problem that needs dental attention. However, in the event the pain strikes at 2 a.m., when not too many dental offices are open, you can make some herbal remedies to gain some temporary relief.
The most time-tested remedy is to soak a cotton swab with oil of cloves and apply it to the tooth. Clove oil is a topical anesthetic.
Soak a cotton ball with ammonia and place it over the aching tooth.
For a remedy that will make you feel worse before you feel better, apply a few grains of cayenne pepper to the tooth and gum. As soon as the original smarting stops, the toothache will subside.
An ancient Hindu remedy is to cut open a fresh ripe fig. Place the juice on the affected tooth and continue to repeat this for 15 minute intervals until the toothache goes away.
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