Some Remedial Tips Against Dental And Oral Diseases - I
The Vedic scriptures describe seven major components of the oral or mouth system and total sixty-seven types of ailments likely to afflict this system. For example refer the following shlokas of the 66th Chapter titled “Mukharogadhikar” in the diagnostics section of the Ayurvedic scripture “Bhavaprakash”.
OÌÚhau Ca Dantmulani Dantaijhve Ca Talu Ca |
Galo Mukhani Sakala® Saptanga Mukhamucyate ||
Meaning: The roots of the teeth – the gums, the teeth, the tongue, palate, throat, and the portion from vocal cord to the opening of mouth (inclusive), these seven components constitute the mukha (mouth) system.
The next shlokas highlights the number of principal types of diseases associated with these seven components.
SyuraÌÚavoÌÚhayordantamule Tu DaÌa ßaÚ Tatha |
DanteÌvaÌÚau Ca Jihvaya® Pancasyurnava Taluni ||
KanÚhe TwaÌÚadaïa Proktastraya¡ SarveÌu Ca Sm—ata¡ |
Eva® Mukhamaya¡ Sarve SaptaÌaÌÚirmata Bhudhai¡ ||
Meaning: Eight types of major ailments are likely to afflict the lips, sixteen the gums or roots of the teeth, eight the teeth, five the tongue, nine the palate, eighteen the throat and three the mouth. This way there are a total of sixty-seven types of diseases of the oral (mouth) system.
Clean and healthy mouth (teeth, tongue etc) is the first test of vigorous health. Without it, one can’t be regarded as totally healthy. Smile of the shining stout teeth adds to one’s beauty. Bleeding gums and dirty or weakened teeth on the contrary make one sick; apart from suffering the pains, one has to also face people’s scorn at times, as people prefer keeping a distance while talking to those having stinking mouths. It is said that mouth is the door for the entrance of diseases. This sounds scientifically logical, as whatever good or bad we eat and drink, first comes in contact with our mouth – the tongue, teeth, throat etc. If there is some infection here, it will get spread in the whole body via blood circulation.
Further, if even a tiny part of what is eaten remains stuck in any component of the mouth, it will soon decompose and give rise to a variety of bacterial diseases. The roots of the teeth and the gums are most vulnerable to such infections. This is why people with dental problems often suffer from gum problems as well. The palate cavity is often neglected while cleaning the mouth. Illness of any component of the mouth system means inviting illness for the whole body system in one form or the other because these components are like sentinels of the body.
Clinical surveys show that over 90% of the dental ailments occur due to unhygienic eating habits and inadequate cleaning of the teeth. Rotten particles stuck in the teeth give rise of bacteria, which eat away important nourishing elements for the teeth including Enamel and Dentine. The growing bacteria populations also attack the delicate veins and nerves in the pulp cavity and the soft insides of the gums. Consequently there are problems like cavities in the teeth, weakening of the teeth, swelling and bleeding of gums, pyorrhea, tooth decay, etc. The saliva of mouth and other stuff eaten or drunk carries the bacterial infections inside the GI track and then to the blood and thus cause various diseases.
Although sixteen types of ailments of the mouth system and their remedies are described in the Ayurvedic scriptures, we shall focus here only on the twelve prominent diseases of the gums and teeth that are quite frequently observed in the present times. These are –– (i) Dantashula (Toothache/Odontalgia); (ii) Dantaksharan or Dantkrami (Dental Caries); (iii) Dantakampa or Loosening of Teeth (Odontoseisis); (iv) Dantarakta (Bleeding/Spongy Gums); (v) Danta-shitad Roga (Enamel Deficiency); (vi) Danta krami (Dental Cavity) (vii) Dantamula Vidradhi or Masudhon Ka Phoda (Gum Boil); (viii) Dantamula Shotha (Gingivitis); (ix) Dantapuya or Dantveshtaka (Pyorrhea); (x) Dantavidradhi (Dental Alveolar Abscess); (xi) Danta Raktabisaran or excessive bleeding from the teeth-roots (Odontorrhagia); (xii) Trench Mouth (Vincent Infection).
We shall first describe them in brief then consider the herbal/remedies and modes of treatments prescribed in Ayurveda.
(i) Dantashula (Toothache/Odontalgia): This is perhaps the most common complaint among people of all age groups and life-styles. There does not seem to be a single cause of this problem. For example, starting or aggravated stage of dental cavity, tooth decay, breaking of tooth, loosening or weakening of tooth, calcium deficiency, aging, etc would also cause toothache of varied intensity. Deposition of dirt (due to decomposition of stuck up food grains, for example) or tarter near the root of a tooth causes acute pain when the bacteria grown there begin to damage the delicate muscles and soft tissues in that region. Pyorrhea also leads to weakening of teeth and sever pain. Many people feel pain in the teeth upon eating or drinking very cold, sour or very hot stuff. Most prominent cause of all these problems and hence of toothache is inadequate cleaning of the teeth.
(ii) Dantaksharan or Dantkrami (Dental Caries): The dirt, bacterial growth and infections in the teeth-roots and gums lead to further decay of the teeth. Pyorrhea also gives rise to this problem. Other causes of this disease are the deficiencies of Vitamins A, D, Phosphorus or Calcium. Teeth are broken into small pieces and gums secrete excessive fluids and begin to almost dissolve
(iii) Dantakampa or Loosening of Teeth (Odontoseisis): It is an offshoot of excessive weakening of the teeth or swelling or loosening of the gums, mostly due to pyorrhea. At times toxic effects of mercury or some chemically synthesized medicines also cause this problem. Chewing becomes painful and difficult for those suffering from Odontoseisis. They often wound their cheeks and tongue in this attempt.
(iv) Dantarakta (Bleeding/Spongy Gums): This is also a common ailment in which with little pressure, or even while brushing or cleaning the mouth, the gums start bleeding. The main cause of this is the dirt between the teeth accumulated due to carelessness in cleaning the teeth. The layer of tarter deposited on the gums also causes this ailment. One must clean them by brush, using toothpaste or toothpowder or by dataun of Neem tree sticks in the morning and after each meal. The mouth should be cleaned by thorough gargling after eating.
(v) Danta-shitad Roga (Enamel Deficiency): Weakening of the protective layer of enamel on the teeth makes the teeth very sensitive; drinking or eating anything cold or warm causes pain in the teeth and the gums. If left untreated, even the touch of a breeze or putting the upper layer of teeth on the lower one becomes unbearable. Deficiency of enamel is an indication of further ailments; especially it is a forewarning of beginning of pyorrhea. It occurs because of infections in the teeth due to unhygienic conditions of the teeth, gums and mouth in general, improper cleaning; or use of toothpastes/powders containing corrosive chemicals.
(vi) Danta krami (Dental Cavity): As stated earlier, the damaging of teeth and gums usually occurs due to the bacterial infection consequent to decomposition of accumulated food particles etc. The cavity (hole) in a tooth is dangerous as it spreads up to the root of the tooth and destroys it. Moreover, whenever the patient eats anything, some particles get stuck inside the cavity and are difficult to be taken out. This means terrible toothache and risk of further infection and diseases. People often get their cavities filled or replace the tooth by some gold coated or artificial tooth made of some biocompatible substance.
(vii) Masudhon Ka Phoda (Gum Boil): This is due to infected (or septic) gums. The infected gum becomes red and inflated. It feels flabby by touch and pains unbearably. In aggravated stage one can even see septic boils on it.
(viii) Dantamula Shotha (Gingivitis): This is a kind of swelling of the gums because of injury or bacterial infection. The initial symptoms are mild pain in the teeth and in the gums. In the extreme stage, even the cheeks pain and appear reddish from inside. If no remedial steps are taken, gradually there would be formation of pus inside the gums which is awfully painful and dangerous, as it may lead to cancer and other diseases of the mouth.
(ix) Dantapuya or Dantveshtaka (Pyorrhea): It is also called Paridar and Puyasrawa in Ayurveda in view of its multiple symptoms and consequences. Pyorrhea is perhaps the most dreaded disease of the teeth; next to oral cancer. In spite of amazing advancement in Dental Care, there is no assured treatment of this disease after a certain stage. The patient has to remove the rotten teeth, undergo the treatment of the gums and if the latter are still having the strength and grip, use artificial denture. It is caused by the bacteria growing in the putrid food particles and filth inside the mouth, especially near the roots of the teeth. It happens only to those who keep munching or hogging something or the other all the time and those who don’t care for hygiene of the mouth and teeth (especially the jaws).
Pyorrhea manifests in full swing after several years of its attack. As the accumulation of germs that leads to its spread continues to go in the systemic circulation, there are bound to be several other health hazards. Frequent among these are –– appetite loss, indigestion, liver infections, fever, ailments of the eyes, arthritis, etc. The infections carried inside the body of the patients of Pyorrhea could be more severe, giving rise to cardiac problems and cancers.
Children who eat ice creams, chocolates, chewing gum, candy, and other sweets and sleep without cleaning (brushing) their teeth are vulnerable to this disease. If not cleaned properly, some amount of the sticky substances (like chocolate) remains in the teeth, however small this deposition is, its gradual decomposition and accumulation for a few days results in bacterial growth. This is a slow process initially but spreads uncontrollably after a certain stage. One learns about the problem only when the toothache aggravates and other kinds of ailments, especially bleeding of gums manifest.
The habits of drinking very cold or hot water, tea or coffee, keeping ice-cubes in mouth, having bed tea without brushing, sleeping after drinking milk without cleaning the mouth, etc are very harmful for dental health. Malnutrition, deficiency of vitamin B-complex and vitamin C also add to the risk of Pyorrhea. Persistence of constipation and gastric problems also result in accumulation of undigested filth in the body, which hosts a variety of bacteria leading to several ailments, including Pyorrhea. The remaining three other diseases are:
Dental Alveolar Abscess: In this case an abscess is formed in the periapical tissues; the symptoms of this ailment are characterized by acute inflammation and suppuration. Odontorrhagia: Profuse bleeding from the socket (in the gum) after removal of a tooth is termed Odontorrhagia. This problem of excessive bleeding from the tooth socket may occur due to germs or specific disorders of the teeth and supporting structures.
Vincent Infection: This is an acute and painful infection of the gums, not contagious, with a stinking odor and painful bleeding of the mouth and gums. It is a kind of Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis.
In the next article we shall look into the herbal/plant medicines against the common ailments of mouth (esp. the dental region) and the methods of their preparation and use as prescribed in ancient texts of Ayurveda and reinvestigated in the modern laboratories of Brahmvarchas Reseach Centre, Shantikunj, Hardwar.
One thing that we all can do from this very moment is to take preventive care. Most important preventive treatment of the common diseases of the mouth is thorough cleansing of the teeth, gum, palate and the tongue. Often people use expensive toothpastes and brush their teeth twice. But they don’t know which toothpaste and what type of brush is good for their dental health. The exact method of cleaning; extra care needs to be taken for the jaws; also different types of tooth brushes are required that suit the teeth that are not in line; are uneven in size, tilted, or placed one above the other. Natural herbal brushes (datuna) and toothpastes are easiest to use and most suited for every kind of teeth. We shall look into these and their therapeutic applications in the next issue.
(To be continued…).