Something To Smile About

Holistic dental strategies can save threatened teeth and gums without extractions.

| July/August 2001

'We’ll have to operate, but we may yet save some of your teeth. It’s expensive and painful, but there’s no other choice.” That was the dentist’s final opinion. Sat Darshan, fifty-three, of Yadkinville, North Carolina, had serious periodontal disease. His gums were painful and bleeding, and rife with 10- to 12-mm-deep pockets. His teeth wiggled in their sockets. How did he get there? In his words, “a history of poor oral hygiene, a lifetime of late-night sweet consumption, and decades of smoking.”

Instead of having the surgery, Darshan began to explore natural alternatives. His first stop was the Bastyr University Naturopathic Clinic in Seattle. His doctor there recommended daily doses of Coenzyme Q10 to stabilize the gum tissue, and a few basic lifestyle changes. These measures slowed the degeneration.

But the strategy that really turned Darshan’s gum disease around was herbal therapy—his last resort. Darshan made nightly gum packs from herbs rolled in gauze and tucked them into the corner of his mouth. He used a combination of turmeric (Curcuma longa), aloe (Aloe vera), willow bark (Salix spp.), vitamin E, and powdered alum.

After four months of using the gum packs, taking supplements such as vitamins A and C, plus calcium, hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), gotu kola (Centella asiatica), and turmeric, and brushing his teeth with a powdered mixture of alum and salt, Darshan’s teeth were more solid in his mouth. He wound up avoiding any extractions. Today, four years later, he still has no significant periodontal disease, just a couple of 3-mm pockets—quite normal for a man of his age. He continues to watch his diet and practice good dental hygiene, but he has been able to discontinue the gum packs.

Even though Darshan’s results were positive, he emphasizes that his recovery “didn’t just happen—it took a tremendous amount of effort and some discomfort.”

When it comes to health, the mouth speaks

Darshan is not alone. According to the dental profession, nearly one-third of Americans age thirty and older have gum disease. Americans spend more than $40 billion a year to treat and slow the degeneration of their dental health.

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