Herbs in oral healing
Introduction, general advice & considerations
On things to consider when using herbal and similar nature-derived remedies to heal, treat or improve one's gums and teeth.
Herbs can be highly therapeutic
Using plants and their derivatives (extracts etc.) may be as old as humankind to trigger and/or assist the in-built self-healing mechanisms of the body. It is well-known that guided by instinct, animals too will seek out certain plants for health and healing purposes (and possibly frequently combine this with fasting). For some powerful human healing testimonials, compare for instance these real-life stories re serious gum disease (teeth wiggling in their sockets) and chronic periodontitis [after twice daily brushing using conventional toothpaste had failed]).
Special tip: when taken in combination with other herbs, cayenne pepper due to its stimulating properties increases their absorption, power and effectiveness.
Herbs in dental applications
Herbs used for oral or dental care or healing purposes have been prepared as a mouthwash, rinse or gargle or directly applied to teeth or gums such as in gum packs or used as (or in) tooth powders.
Depending upon the instructions given by the herbalist or manufacturer, rinses can be made by preparing a herb as tea or decoction, or simply by stirring the powdered herb into water.
While herbs and their derivatives can doubtless be powerful helpmates in regaining or maintaining oral (and other) health and even though medicinal products derived from organically grown or wild-crafted herbs and plants (and Healing Teeth Naturally only recommends the latter, for the reasons see Shopping for herbs) can be considered natural, they can be or become toxic (or less than beneficial, such as when using large amounts over a longer time period). In fact, nearly all foodstuffs and therapeutic/medicinal herbs found in nature and used by humans may contain some ingredient(s) which can be toxic when the respective item is overindulged in (not to mention the issue of allergies - there may be few products in the world where there isn't somewhere someone allergic to it).1
Additionally, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it would seem advisable to research any contraindications reported for the herb or herbal preparation/combination you are planning to use.
Another issue can be the question of habituation where the body may no longer benefit from any one item or food used for too long.
Last but not least, on this site most of the recommendations and suggestions for the self-treatment of different tooth and gum problems (tooth decay, gum inflammation or gingivitis, bleeding gums, "gum infection", receding gums, loose teeth etc.) via the administration of herbal preparations are gleaned, compiled and/or translated by Healing Teeth Naturally from English, German and some French online and offline sources such as highly impressive real-life healing stories ("anecdotal" reports not provided by the seller of a product but by individuals sharing on forums) etc. This means that a guarantee of complete accuracy or (particularly) comprehensiveness cannot be given since the field of herbology is extensive and ascribed uses and benefits (at least) occasionally vary according to sources (without even mentioning the effect of the well-known (and powerful) placebo effect in most any treatment humans apply).
When shopping for herbal products, it would seem best to make sure to opt for the highest quality rather than the cheapest price or offer. In addition to looking for truly organic3 or wild-crafted, watch out for (and try to avoid) chemical toxins added in the production process (there can be a surprising amount). Be aware that depending on which soil a plant is grown in, it can be richly (or less so) endowed with valuable ingredients, and may be contaminated with pollutants from industrial waste (such as lead). Another consideration is freshness, for optimum effectiveness make sure the ingredients in the herbs you buy are still (considered to be) active.
Conclusion: aiming at long-term health
Herbal treatments can indeed be immensely helpful and a number of their effects have already been analyzed and confirmed in the laboratory2. In the long run however, one's best bet for sustained health and healing success may be looking into implementing optimised dietary habits and a toxin-free natural, happy lifestyle.
1 Additionally, some herbs apparently have estrogenic effects in the human body and are therefore possibly not advised for people with so-called estrogen-dependent cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian...). Personally I think it tremendously more important to try and avoid the ubiquitous xenoestrogens from chemical compounds newly introduced into our enironment and found in items/chemicals such as insecticides, sunscreen lotions, plastics, pesticides, adhesives, paints, parabens, etc. etc.
These newfangled xenoestrogens are the ones the human body has had no time to adapt to while ancient, naturally occurring so-called archiestrogens such as the phytoestrogens (estrogenic substances found in certain herbs and plants) are produced by living organisms and even differ chemically from xenoestrogens. For an example of how the "estrogen and cancer" issue can be abused in pharmaceutical industry propaganda to further commercial interests, see Are lavender and tea tree essential oils estrogenic?.
2 Though generally speaking, it may be safe to assume that much less research efforts go into non-patentable [and hence not very profitable] herbs than into highly profitable patented drugs. In fact some research seems to be undertaken to "prove" that time-honoured herbal products are "dangerous" to health. A telling example can be read at Are lavender and tea tree essential oils estrogenic?.