Using Manuka Honey For Oral Care

Friday, 08 September 2017 | Kim Bulder


Smile, not all sweet foods are bad for your teeth!

Scientific studies show Manuka honey has real benefits for oral health, and despite its high natural sugar content behaves in very different ways to refined sugar.

Gum disease is a serious problem, and if left untreated can lead to tooth loss and possibly even heart disease. Dental experts say gum disease affects up to 80% of all adults, though you may not even know you have it.

Signs to look out for are:

  • Bleeding when you brush or floss tender
  • Swollen or receding gums
  • Persistent bad breath

The key to avoiding gum disease and tooth decay is keeping the trouble-making bacteria in the mouth under control to minimise plaque formation and gum inflammation. All that, while not wiping out the good bacteria that are essential for a healthy mouth.

Luckily, research shows that high-grade Manuka honey inhibits the oral bacteria associated with plaque formation, tooth decay and gum disease. And, unlike sugar, honey doesn’t create an acidic demineralising environment in the mouth (which is how tooth decay starts). Manuka honey even stacks up against pharmaceutical antibacterials, showing similar effectiveness at reducing plaque formation when compared to the antibacterial mouthwash chlorhexidine. Manuka honey has the added benefits of being gentle on oral tissue and providing anti-inflammatory and healing properties. 

If you aren't ready to make the switch over to Manuka for oral care, here are some tips to avoid doing more harm than good:

Use less toothpaste – remember the commercials showing a smiling model squeezing a stripe of toothpaste the length of the toothbrush head? DON’T do that. Research shows toothpaste abuse (the rather dramatic term for using too much toothpaste) and overbrushing can lead to enamel abrasion and sensitivity. Dentists recommend using no more than a tiny pea-size amount of toothpaste, ideally with an electric toothbrush.

Beware of mouthwashes – using a daily chemical mouthwash is one of the worst things you can do for oral health. These mouthwashes commonly contain alcohol and other chemical irritants, and have an acidic pH. They strip your mouth of protective mucus and upset the balance of good and bad oral bacteria, cause dryness and increased susceptibility to infection, irritate oral tissue and erode tooth enamel. And the kicker? Chemical mouthwashes can actually worsen bad breath. A salt water mouthwash makes a great natural alternative (dissolve ½-1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt in 1 cup of pure water)

Avoid sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) – think all that toothpaste foam means a great clean? Think again. SLS, a common foaming agent in toothpaste, is linked to mouth ulcers and oral irritation. Use SLS-free natural toothpaste, and, as above, use sparingly.

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