Why chewing sticks prevent tooth decay better than conventional toothpastes —Experts
Though, the modern chemical-based toothpaste and mouthwash have been effective in combating germs that cause tooth decay, the major challenge is the resistance of these germs to some commonly used antibiotics and other antimicrobial chemicals.
Now, experts have formulated a herbal toothpaste that can reduce, control and prevent various types of dental diseases from edible and medicinal plants. These are Syzygium aromaticum, Dennettia tripetala, and Jatropha curcas latex.
The researchers, who tested the extracts of these medicinal plants on disease causing germs, said the formulated kinds of toothpaste have better and significant antimicrobial effect when compared to commercial toothpaste.
The tested disease-causing organisms included Streptococcus mutans, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mitis and Candida albicans that have been implicated in dental diseases.
For the study, toothpastes of various compositions were formulated using the ethanolic extracts of pepper fruit seeds, buds of S. aromaticum with J. curcas latex as the active ingredients and other non-bioactive ingredients.
The 2019 study published in the AMB Express involved Olugbenga Oludayo Oluwasina; Ifunanya Vivian Ezenwosu; Clement Olusola Ogidi and Victor Olusegun Oyetayo.
Commercial antibiotics such as flucloxacillin and ketoconazole were used as positive control for bacteria and yeast respectively, while sterile distilled water was used as the negative control.
All the formulated kinds of toothpaste exhibited antimicrobial property against all the tested microorganisms. Formulated toothpaste with only S. aromaticum extract seems to be much more active among the three bioactive materials used for the formulation. But, commercially produced toothpaste without any herb product has no inhibition against tested microorganisms.
They, therefore, suggested that the chemical substances in these plant extracts and latex could be useful raw material in producing toothpaste that may reduce the occurrence of microbial pathogens associated with dental diseases.
According to them, the use of medicinal and edible plants for the formulation of toothpaste should be of interest in oral care products due to the presence of compounds that are capable of inhibiting the growth of microorganisms causing oral infection.
“The adoption of herbal toothpaste by consumers and dentists will safeguard the side effect of oral care products containing synthetic compounds and reduce the cost of treatment,” they stated.
Syzygium aromaticum is commonly called clove. It is used in preparing Nigerian pepper soup with meats and fishes. Dennettia tripetala is pepper fruit. Jatropha curcas has been used as a traditional toothbrush in some places and used for various trado-medicines.
Meanwhile, Nigerian researchers have also demonstrated that three local chewing sticks performed better than fluoride-based and conventional kinds of toothpaste in preventing tooth decay.
The study, published in British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research was entitled “A Study of the Anticaries Activity of Three Common Chewing Sticks and Two Brands of Toothpaste in South West Nigeria”.
It included Odeleye Olubola Florence; Okunye Olufemi Lionel; Kesi Christopher; and Abatan Temitope Olubunmi, all from the Faculty of Pharmacy, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State,
The researchers evaluated three common chewing sticks – Fagara zanthoxyloides, Vernonia amygdalina and Massularia accuminata- and two brands of toothpaste in southwest Nigeria for the ability to control caries-causing bacteria.
Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides (Fagara zanthoxyloides) is called orin ata in Yoruba. Veronica amygdaline commonly called bitter leaf. Commonly called Chewing stick, Massularia acuminata is called pako-ijebu, orin-ijebu in Yoruba and atu uhie in Igbo.
The results showed that the ethanol extracts of Fagara zanthoxyloides showed the highest anti-caries activity followed by Vernonia amygdalina (VA) and then Massularia acuminata (MA).
They concluded: “The chewing sticks used in this study showed good antimicrobial activity against the isolates and could provide better care than fluoride kinds of toothpaste. The active compounds if isolated would be good caries-controlling components of herbal kinds of toothpaste.
”The active constituents in the ethanol extracts of the chewing sticks will be useful as anti-caries components of herbal kinds of toothpaste which are becoming common in the market.”
The use of chewing stick is still being practised in some part of the world such as Africa, South Asia, an isolated area in America and Southern United State, owing to some unique characteristics such as foaminess, hardness and bitterness.
Some of these chewing sticks have been shown to possess varying degrees of antimicrobial activity against germs that cause dental diseases. This indicates, therefore, that the chewing sticks, in addition to providing mechanical stimulation of the gums, also destroy microbes, a feature which is absent in the common toothpaste and brush method. This advantage of the chewing sticks over the conventional toothpaste and brush could explain why many Africans have strong teeth.
Some African chewing sticks have also been reported to contain fluoride ions, silicon, tannic acid, sodium bicarbonate and other natural plaque-inhibiting substances that can reduce bacterial colonisation and plaque formation.