Natural Remedies for a Healthy Mouth

Looking for natural, at-home ways to freshen your mouth and brighten your pearly whites? Try these simple, expert-recommended tips from Jonathan B. Levine, DMD.

Natural Remedies for a Healthy Mouth

Sure, the drug store offers a dizzying array of toothpastes, teeth whitening agents and mouthwashes that will keep your teeth and gums beautiful and healthy. But if you prefer a more natural approach to dental care, there are many simple, time-tested home remedies that also do the trick—for less money, and without hard-to-pronounce chemical ingredients.

Of course, the most natural way to keep teeth healthy and help prevent gum disease is to eat a healthy diet. “Sugars are the enemy of the mouth, as well as the body,” says Jonathan B. Levine, DMD. “If your hygiene isn’t great and you’re eating lots of sweets, bacteria work on the sugars to create acid which demineralizes the teeth and starts the decay process.” That means more cavities and more dental visits.

It’s not just the foods you avoid, but the foods you eat, that can make the difference in your oral health. Nutritious foods provide the vitamins and nutrients you need for teeth and gum health, says Dr. Levine. For example, getting enough vitamin C--present in many fruits and vegetables--is essential for healthy gums. It protects them against cell damage, promotes healthy capillaries and makes them more resistant to bacteria.

Foods, herbs and other natural remedies can also keep teeth and gums clean, prevent cavities, freshen breath and whiten teeth. Here’s how:

  • Fresh Breath: Bad breath, or halitosis, is caused by bacteria on the teeth and especially the tongue, which give off smelly sulfur compounds. Certain foods such as onions and garlic also contain high amounts of sulfur. How can you cure bad breath naturally? Green tea and black tea have been shown to reduce levels of sulfur compounds. Snacking on crunchy fruits and veggies such as apples, celery and carrots also helps, by stimulating saliva, which attacks bacteria on the teeth.
  • Mouth Ulcers: These annoying lumps inside your cheeks usually crop up when your immune system is stressed--when you have a fever, for instance, or are getting run down. Antioxidants, especially vitamins C and E, can be helpful. One powerful antioxidant, which is extracted from pine bark and available in a product called Pycnogenol, accelerates cellular healing in the mouth, according to Dr. Levine.
  • Whiter Teeth: You don’t need to buy expensive teeth whitening kits to keep your pearlies bright. Crunchy fruits and veggies also act as exfoliators, which “scrub” plaque and stains from the teeth. Eating pineapple is another delicious way to whiten teeth: Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain which acts as a natural stain remover. And of course there’s baking soda: Make it into a paste with a touch of hydrogen peroxide, suggests Dr. Levine.
  • Fewer Cavities: Coconut oil has natural germ-killing properties. Try the ancient cleansing routine of “oil-pulling,” and swish coconut oil in your mouth for 15 minutes to kill bacteria. Or, make a paste out of coconut oil and baking powder. Stop a cavity in its tracks by drinking more water: It not only helps clean away germs, but it’s important for the production of bacteria-attacking saliva.

Medically reviewed in June 2018.

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