When you're not feeling well, what do you do? You might call your doctor or dentist or take an over-the-counter medicine. Alternatively, you might consider trying out some type of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM). As the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes, approximately 38% of adults in the U.S. have tried CAM, either alongside or in place of conventional medicine.
One example of a CAM therapy is Ayurveda. Many people have explored Ayurvedic treatment for dental bone loss, arthritis and other medical or dental conditions — but does the therapy work, and more importantly, is it safe to try?
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine from India. The word "Ayurveda" comes from the Sanskrit words that mean "life" (ayur) and "science" or "knowledge" (veda), as Johns Hopkins Medicine points out. Ayurveda takes a holistic approach to treating illness or maintaining health. Treatments combine exercise, diet and lifestyle changes with the use of supplemental products. Ayurvedic products might come from plants, as well as metals, animals and minerals, as the NCCIH notes.
In India, Ayurveda is used as a traditional system of medical and health care. In the U.S., there are Ayurvedic practitioners, but there are no official training programs or licensure requirements in place like there are for medical doctors and dentists. Currently, the scientific research on the effects of Ayurveda for certain conditions remains limited, and the NCCIH observes that most studies on Ayurvedic treatments have been small, often with fewer than 100 subjects.
Common Ayurvedic Dental Treatments
Multiple Ayurvedic practices claim to help improve dental health. While some treatments seem very similar to conventional dental practices, others are notably different. A study published in the Pharmacognosy Review outlines several Ayurvedic oral health practices:
- Dant Dhavani: This involves chewing herbal sticks or brushing your teeth with them in the morning and after eating to reduce the risk of disease.
- Jivha Lekhana: This practice is the same as tongue scraping and aims to improve bad breath and reduce bacteria in the mouth.
- Gandusha: This is the practice of gargling or swishing oil in the mouth, also known as oil pulling. Ayurvedic practitioners claim that this cleans the mouth and helps to treat certain diseases, such as diabetes.
- Tissue and bone regeneration: Practitioners believe certain herbs, such as turmeric, can help regenerate lost bone or gum tissue. These supplements are taken internally via capsules.
Does Ayurvedic Treatment for Dental Bone Loss Work?
There seem to be few, if any, well-designed studies that show any evidence of Ayurvedic treatment being effective for dental bone loss. The studies noted by the NCCIH focused on Ayurvedic treatments for conditions such as diabetes, arthritis in the knees, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis. The NCCIH also warns that many preparations used in Ayurvedic medicine contain potentially harmful metals or minerals. In fact, one study cited by the NCCIH revealed that 40% of people who used Ayurvedic treatments had elevated levels of lead in their blood.
If you're interested in Ayurveda or are curious to see if it could help improve your dental health, remember to consult your dentist before beginning any treatments. They will be able to advise you on the best, proven techniques to help treat your dental issue.
Proven Treatments for Dental Bone Loss
As the American Academy of Periodontology notes, dental bone loss often occurs in the advanced stages of periodontal disease. When this happens, one way to restore it is through a bone graft, as the Mayo Clinic points out. A bone graft might use your natural bone or synthetic bone material. The goal of the surgery is to encourage the regeneration of weakened bone in the jaw, usually to support dental implants.
Your dentist is always there to help you preserve your oral health and reduce your risk of periodontal disease and dental bone loss. Whether or not you have signs of advanced disease, you can work with your dentist to put together an oral care plan that will help you manage or treat current conditions and keep dental problems from developing in the future. If you're interested in exploring Ayurveda or other CAM therapies, it's still a good idea to discuss all of your options with a medical or dental professional first.