In the Ayurvedic practice, chewing sticks are recommended to prevent diseases. Its recommended dose is every morning and after every meal. The sticks contain herbs that can either be described as ‘kashaya’ (astringent), ‘katu’ (acrid), or ‘tikta’ (bitter) in taste. Chewing sticks are also made from fresh stems of plants taken from a healthy tree. These plants can range from, but not limited to liquorish, cutch tree, margosa and milkweed plant. Aside from the fact that the stems have anti-bacterial properties, chewing on the stems cause a lot of salivary secretion, allowing plaque control.
The type of chewing stick that is most beneficial to the user is determined by their respective dosha. Vata is prone to developing receding gums, Kapha is prone to having pale and hypertrophic gums and Pitta is prone to inflammation and benefits from chewing sticks with a bitter taste. The concept is similar to brushing one’s teeth, however the stick is chewed instead.
Directions to use a chewing stick: crush one end, chew it, and eat it slowly.
There are also studies that have shown that neem extract found in Ayurvedic tooth powders/pastes cause fewer dental cavities in children. Mango leaf is also a popular tactic to help fight against dental cavities. It’s common to wash and fold the leaf into a cylindrical pack and rub it on the teeth as well as a tongue cleaner. Mango leaves contain a compound called mangiferin, which helps fight against certain strains of pneumococci, streptococci, staphylococci, and lactobacillus acidophilus.
“Oil pulling” is another technique used in Ayurveda medicine to improve oral health. This concept involves swishing oil in your mouth. The oil used is typically sunflower or sesame oil. Sesame oil has many benefits such as being anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, it is high in antioxidants, improves cardiovascular health and aids controlling blood sugar. Oil pulling has been known to help with headaches, diabetes and asthma. This technique is beneficial to those who have gum disease, mouth ulcers, fever, indigestion, or have the tendency to vomit while brushing their teeth. Studies compared oil pulling with sesame oil vs. chlorhexidine mouthwash, a prescriptive germicidal mouthwash primarily used by dentists. It was found that oil pulling showed a reduced amount of plaque.
The realm of holistic medicine is very vast and one that people can benefit greatly from incorporating into their daily routine.
Singh, Abhinav, and Bharathi Purohit. “Tooth brushing, oil pulling and tissue regeneration: A review of holistic approaches to oral health.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine vol. 2,2 (2011): 64-8. doi:10.4103/0975-9476.82525
Shanbhag VK. Oil pulling for maintaining oral hygiene - A review. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Jun 6;7(1):106-109. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.05.004. PMID: 28053895; PMCID: PMC5198813.