Oral hygiene is the basic routine one must follow to keep the mouth and teeth free from disorders.
The mouth is the gateway to the alimentary canal which receives food and saliva. Mouth is lined with a mucosal membrane and consists of the oral cavity.
The oral cavity includes the teeth and the gums. The roof of the mouth consists of the hard and soft palate while the base is covered by the tongue.
Salivary glands present near the mouth help to keep it moist and free from infections.
Peridontum comprises the tissues that support the teeth and gums are also referred to as gingiva. Both maxillary (upper) and mandibular(lower) teeth are innervated thus enabling sensations of pain or cold and heat.
The tongue helps to sense taste as well as to chew and swallow food.
Lack of oral hygiene can make the mouth susceptible to disorders or infections like gingivitis, dental cavities, periodonitis, oral cysts, ulcers, oral cancer etc.
Dentists recommend a number of procedures to maintain oral hygiene:
- Professional teeth cleaning
- Oral irrigation
- Plaque removal
- Tongue cleaning and gum care
Certain types of food such as green tea, onions, dairy products help balance pH of the mouth, preserve tooth enamel and kill bacteria; whereas food rich in carbohydrates can damage the teeth.
Smoking damages the oral cavity. Certain medications can also reduce the flow of saliva which can lead to an increase in bacterial growth in the mouth.
Diseases like diabetes and HIV reduce one’s immunity and make one susceptible to oral infections. Oral inflammation is also seen as a side effect of chemotherapy.
Cardiovascular diseases, low birth weight, endocarditis, osteoporosis are a few of the diseases linked with poor oral health.
However, the body’s natural defences and good oral hygiene habits can protect an individual from disorders related to the oral cavity.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of Turmeric in Oral health
- How to use Turmeric for Dental Problems
- Research Studies
- Study 1: Turmeric Gel Aids In Treatment of Gingivitis
- Study 2: Turmeric More Effective than Commonly Used Germicidal Mouthwash for Plaque and Gingivitis
- Study 3: Curcumin Fares Better Than Steroids In Treatment Of Oral Submucous Fibrosis
- Study 4: Curcumin Fares Better Than Steroids In Treating Oral Ulcers
Benefits of Turmeric in Oral health
Turmeric is a famous curry spice that is used generously by Asians in their food as well as a medicine.
Turmeric belongs to the ginger family and turmeric powder is obtained from its rhizome. Curcuminoids is a class of compounds found in turmeric powder that are strong antioxidants and they are responsible for the bright yellow color of the spice.
Curcumin is the principal curcuminoid that demonstrates the pharmacological properties of turmeric.
The volatile oil fraction of turmeric gives the spice its flavourful aroma and also contributes to the therapeutic properties.
Turmeric possesses a number of properties of clinical significance such as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antimicrobial etc.
Research studies suggest that these properties can be of use in dental problems and diseases related to the mouth.
1. Turmeric and Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the mild inflammation of the gums characterized by swelling and irritation.
Plaque is a film of bacteria that grows on the teeth and another surface of the mouth.
A study was performed to compare the effect of turmeric mouthwash to that of standard treatment-chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash in treating gingivitis and plaque.
Subjects of the age group 25-35 years participated in this study. Their plaque and gingivitis index score was measured at 0, 14 and 21 days. Significant reduction in plaque index and a microbial count was observed in both groups. No difference in the gingival index was seen in either group.
However, chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash was more effective when the antiplaque property was considered.
What it means: Nevertheless it is important to note that turmeric mouthwash is as effective as chlorhexidine mouthwash and can be used as an adjunct and low cost measure to control plaque.
2. Turmeric for Periodontitis
Periodontitis is inflammation of tissues supporting the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to loosening and loss of teeth.
It is primarily caused by the accumulation of bacteria at the gum line. The line of treatment followed includes the following procedures:
- Scaling: removal of tartar and bacteria from the teeth and gum line
- Root planning: smoothening of roots surfaces to prevent the future build-up of plaque.
However, the treatment is invasive and requires multiple visits, use of local anesthesia and antibiotics.
A study was conducted to compare the effect of turmeric gel along with Scaling and Root planning (SRP) and the effect of SRP alone on the plaque, gingivitis and other factors pertaining to periodontitis.
30 patients participated in this study wherein certain parts of the affected sites of their mouth were treated with SRP alone and some with turmeric gel and SRP.
Significant reduction in recorded parameters was seen in both groups but turmeric gel combination brought about greater reduction than SRP alone. This effect can be due to turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial property.
3. Turmeric for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is the cancerous growth of cells in the mouth.
Use of tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of oral hygiene, etc. are some of the factors that can lead to oral cancer.
Curcumin possesses anti-cancer property and it is effective in controlling and terminating cancerous growth. China Medical University investigated the effect of curcumin on drug-resistant oral cancer cell lines.
Considering the limitation of poor bioavailability, a special formulation of curcumin was prepared.
Curcumin brought about cell death in oral cancer cells; however, it was not toxic normal human gum cells and other cell types found in the normal human cavity.
Curcumin modulated the activity of multiple drug resistance protein-1 (protein that confers resistance to routine treatment and enhances survival potential of cells) and stimulated the production of reactive oxygen studies in cancerous cells leading to cell death.
Nanoparticle formulation of curcumin can thus serve to be therapeutic in drug-resistant oral cancer.
Turmeric’s role as an anti-cancer is well known. It is no surprise it can help in oral cancer too.
4. Turmeric for Oral Submucosal Fibrosis
Oral submucosal fibrosis (OSMF) is a disease in which tissue comprising the lining of the mouth hardens and changes in the composition of the muscle connecting the mouth increase difficulty in opening the mouth and affect activities like eating and swallowing.
Patients suffering from this condition are at increased risk of developing oral cancer. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of curcumin is responsible for its chemopreventive action.
A research study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of turmeric treatment for oral submucosal fibrosis.
30 patients participated in this study and they were split into four groups based upon the extent to which they could open their mouth.
Each patient was administered curcumin tablet containing 300mg curcumin and 5mg piperine thrice daily for 1 month.
Patient’s mouth opening and burning sensation were recorded.
Results from the four groups indicated that mouth opening improved in the range of 0.7-5.1% whereas burning sensation reduced by 66-83%.
If overall improvement is considered turmeric did not affect mouth opening but significantly reduced burning sensation.
It was concluded that turmeric has a therapeutic effect on individuals suffering from oral submucosal fibrosis but further research is required.
A similar study was performed at Government Dental College, Trivandrum, India wherein forty-eight patients were split into 3 groups.
Each group was administered only one of the following drugs: curcumin(daily dose of 1 gram), turmeric oil(daily dose of 600mg) and standard treatment tablets (daily dose of 1 gram).
Patients were evaluated every 15 days for 9 months. Groups receiving turmeric showed the significant reduction in burning sensation and intolerance to spicy food within 3 months of treatment.
These groups also reported complete relief from pain and demonstrated a significant increase in mouth opening. None of these effects were observed in the control group.
Curcumin brought about quick changes whereas turmeric oil had a slow but long term effect and it even reduced the lesions.
Results of this study indicate that both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of turmeric make it a potential candidate to treat OSMF.
5. Turmeric for radiation-induced mucositis
As mentioned previously, oral mucositis or inflammation of the mucosal layer lining the oral cavity occurs as a side effect to radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.
80 patients who were receiving chemoradiotherapy for head and neck cancer participated in a study which was designed to investigate turmeric’s effect on radiation induced mucositis.
40 patients were given turmeric mouthwash and the other 40 were administered povidone-iodine treatment for comparison.
Based on results recorded over 7 weeks, it was observed that turmeric mouthwash prevented and reduced radiation-induced oral mucositis.
Turmeric mouthwash also reduced the incidence of intolerable mucositis, reduced changes in body weight and prevented breaks in treatment.
It was concluded that gargling with turmeric during treatment of head and neck cancer can prevent and reduce radiation induced mucositis.
6. Turmeric for toothaches, swelling, etc.
Apart from serving as a herbal remedy, turmeric finds its use in different forms in dental problems. Dental plaques are not visible to the naked eye.
They are generally stained with dyes so as to spot their location for removal. A dental plaque detection system has been designed wherein the staining agent contains turmeric extracts and curcumin and light emitting apparatus is used.
The apparatus emits light at a particular wavelength which helps to identify the plaque.
Sealants are an artificial coating applied to the teeth to protect them from decay. They are applied to pits- hollow regions and fissures- grooves of the back teeth.
Turmeric extract is one of the colorants used in preparing a sealant which is generally composed of plastic and one colorant.
Turmeric, due to its anti-inflammatory property, can be applied locally or taken as an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to treat aching gums or teeth.
How to use Turmeric for Dental Problems
Here are some easy to follow ways to use turmeric for dental health:
1. Massaging aching teeth with roasted, ground turmeric can help reduce pain and swelling.
2. Prepare turmeric water by boiling 5g of turmeric powder, two cloves and two ground leaves of guava in 200g water. Let it cool. Rinsing the mouth with this water can provide instant relief from dental problems.
3. Prepare a paste by mixing 1 tsp of turmeric with ½ tsp of salt and ½ tsp of mustard oil. Rub this paste twice daily on gums and teeth for relief from gingivitis and periodontitis.
4. To prepare a gum pack wet a pinch of turmeric powder in water or in Vitamin E oil and apply it at night to the affected areas. One can also roll this paste in gauze and tuck it in the mouth.
5. Applying the powder of burnt turmeric pieces and bishop’s weed seed (also known as ajwain ) on teeth and cleaning them helps strengthen gums and teeth.
Former sufferers of dental and gum problems recommend brushing teeth with turmeric powder as it has cured their problems of bleeding gums, periodontitis and bad breath.
However turmeric stains the teeth yellow, so it is advisable to follow this routine with regular toothpaste.
This dosage section is for oral use of turmeric.
Turmeric incorporated in the diet is the safest way of consuming it.
However, due to low bioavailability, it is advised to add a dash of black pepper to turmeric preparations before consuming them. Read More on black pepper here
Turmeric supplements are available in the form of capsules containing powder, tincture or fluid extracts.
The recommended dosage is as follows:
- Cut roots: 1.5-3 g per day
- Powdered roots: 1-3g per day
- Standardized powder of curcumin: 400-600mg 3 times a day.
- Fluid extract with 1:1 concentration: 30-90 drops per day
- Tincture of 1:2 ratio : 15-30 drops 4 times a day
Read my detailed article on dosage here
Turmeric as a spice is very safe to use.
However one must be careful with turmeric supplements as it is a concentrated form of curcumin and may contain other components which are included to enhance its availability in the body.
Inappropriate dose or allergic reactions from supplements can affect one’s health; so it is advisable to take turmeric supplements as per a health practitioner’s recommendation.
Few of the conditions under which one should avoid turmeric supplements are:
- Pregnancy & Lactation
- Diabetes (if one is consuming blood thinning medications)
- Prior to surgery
- Gall bladder disorders
- Bile passage obstructions
- Gastrointestinal disorders
If consuming medications that reduce stomach acid and/or blood thinning agents.