by Allison Brooks, natural health contributor

One New Year’s resolution that may not come to mind immediately is practicing better oral hygiene.

Attaining and maintaining optimal oral health does not require expensive products or procedures that may be popular yet harmful in the long run. Approximately $40 billion is spent yearly (by North Americans alone) to treat oral conditions. Consider the benefits of a natural or herbal approach toward ideal oral health for 2012.

Myrrh is a resin that is found in the regions spanning Arabia and North Africa and has a warming effect. Pine resin, also known as “pitch,” resembles chewing gum with a firm consistency. Moreover, propolis, made from bees, encourages new tissue growth and is great for soothing oral ulcers. All three resins are anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial.

Anti-Bacterial Herbs
Bloodroot is a plant found in the eastern woodlands that stunts growth and effects of bacteria that lead to plaque buildup and decay. Usnea is a lichen that trumps penicillin in killing staphylococcus (staph) and streptococcal (strep) infections. The weed, plantain, is found all over the world and is effective in treating inflammation such as an abscess.
Recent studies reveal that plants fortified with tannin (a polyphenolic compound that forms strong bonds with proteins) may possess anti-viral capabilities. Oak galls (also known as “oak apples”) are effective as a dentifrice in powder form and contain nearly 50 percent tannin. Sage and tormentil combined make an effective gargle solution to treat inflammation of the gums. Krameria, which includes 40 percent tannin, makes an effective powder dentifrice in combination with myrrh.

Other Herbal/Natural Solutions for Oral Health
Essential oils and natural immune strengtheners are also effective in attaining and maintaining excellent oral health in the New Year. Essential oils that prove beneficial include fennel, sage, peppermint, and cinnamon. These essential oils encourage better blood circulation of the gums and are anti-microbial. Immune strengtheners include baptisia, an anti-microbial antiseptic and echinacea, which is an effective rinse that promotes regeneration.

Perhaps one of the most effective ways to minimize or halt oral health issues, such as cavities and gum disease, is limiting the diet of processed foods and refined simple sugars. This is no easy conversion for many, but the oral benefits are well worth the resolutions to attain and maintain the very best oral health with cost-effective and safer alternatives through herbal or natural solutions.

But just remember; if serious issues occur do see a dentist. These suggestions are to help you maintain better oral health between visits. There is no excuse, from Ontario to DC, dentists are on every corner.

Allie Brooks studies different forms of healing and has a degree in Biomedical Anthropology from the University of Mississippi. She and currently does field studies while finishing an ethnography of biomedicalization in Bolivian cultures. She can be reached at