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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Brandon Yew and Dr Andre Budihardjo on December 6, 2022

How Can TCM Help Support Oral Hygiene?

In between trips to the dentist, use these holistic remedies to maintain good oral hygiene and fight disease-causing pathogens.

Oral hygiene min scaled

Most people are aware of the importance of good oral hygiene but hate going to the dentist. Does this sound like you?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 26% of US adults have untreated dental cavities.

Additionally, 46% of adults over 30 are showing signs of gum disease and 13% of young people aged 5 to 19 have untreated tooth decay.

Proper oral hygiene does more than give you a nice smile. As an integral part of your digestive system, your oral health has great influence over the rest of your body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) supports good oral health by restoring balance to the body. This can help correct oral issues, such as bad breath, gum disease, and cavities.

If you’re not a fan of going to the dentist more than you need to, try these holistic tips to help keep your mouth healthy.

How Does TCM Support Oral Hygiene?

A woman having her teeth examined by a dentist
In TCM, good oral health helps balance the overall health of your entire body.

Western dentistry and TCM agree on the importance of oral hygiene. It is essential for the “proper physical development and functioning of the teeth, gums, tongue, lips, chewing muscles, oral cavity linings, salivary glands, the jaw, and palates,” explains Real Medical Senior TCM Physician Brandon Yew. 

TCM also offers a more holistic approach to dental health. “These biological structures are closely associated with many vital organs, namely the Lungs, Spleen, Heart, Kidneys, Liver, large intestine, stomach, and small intestine. Essentially, oral health can affect the wellness of these organs and vice versa,” says Physician Yew. 

TCM helps treat the underlying root cause behind the symptoms of an existing oral condition and works as a preventive strategy for dental disease. By boosting your body’s natural defenses, you can improve oral health to help prevent teeth and gum disorders.

How To Boost Oral Hygiene With TCM 

Incorporating TCM practices into oral hygiene habits can improve dental health. Here’s how TCM can help treat imbalances in the body to boost oral health and help with existing ailments. 

1. Herbal formulas that balance the body 

In TCM, Fire (Huo) is one of the five essential elements that provide energy to the body. When this element is imbalanced due to hyperactivity and excessiveness, the imbalance is called Excess Fire (Shang Huo). 

Some common manifestations are redness, inflammation, pain, and fever. The oral ailments associated with Shang Huo include oral ulceration, sensitive and bleeding gums, inflammation, and pain.

Chinese healing herbs are used to restore balance to the body. Below, Physician Yew lists just a few herbal formulas to help manage symptoms of oral diseases and promote healing of the oral cavity:

  • Xie Huang San: Clears Heat and dispels Dampness within the stomach and Spleen, improving qi and blood circulation within the oral cavity
  • Qing Wei San: Clears Heat and dispels blood clots within the stomach; replenishes yin and Blood  
  • Yu Nu Jian: Clears Heat within the stomach and Kidneys; replenishes yin to nourish the Kidneys and teeth 
  • Tong Qiao Huo Xue Tang: Dispels blood clots and Stagnated Qi within the oral cavity 
  • Long Dan Xie Gan Tang: Clears Heat and dispels Dampness within the Liver; replenishes yin and blood  
  • Dao Chi San: Clears Heat within the Heart and small intestines
  • Qing Fei Yi Huo Pian: Purges Dampness and Heat within the Lungs and large intestines

Essentially, maintaining oral hygiene and treating dental disorders can be rather complex, advises Physician Yew. So, it’s important to consult with a qualified TCM practitioner instead of self-medicating with the herbal formulas provided above.

2. Acupressure to dispel disease-causing germs 

Acupressure can help maintain the balance of yin and yang energy as it promotes the flow of qi and blood. This helps provide some symptomatic relief to dental conditions while also helping maintain oral health by dispelling pathogens within the body. 

You can perform acupressure at home by using your fingers or a massage stick on certain acupoints. Below are some recommended acupoints that might help, according to Physician Yew: 

  • Chi Ze (LU5): Dispels pathogens and strengthens Lungs 
  • He Gu (LI4): Reduces pathogens from the large intestines 
  • Nei Ting (ST44): Alleviates pathogens from the stomach 
  • Xue Hai (SP10): Dispels pathogens from the Spleen 
  • Tong Li (HT5): Reduces pathogens, strengthens the Heart 
  • Quan Liao (SI18): Dispels pathogens from the small intestines 
  • Tai Xi (KI3): Alleviates pathogens and nourishes Kidneys 
  • Xing Jian (LR2): Dispels pathogens from the Liver 

“Apply an appropriate amount of pressure to elicit a tolerable sensation of soreness or tenderness for it to be effective,” says Physician Yew. At the same time, massage the points in both a clockwise and counterclockwise motion, 20 times each. Repeat for at least three minutes per acupoint.

It’s important to consult a qualified TCM practitioner in conjunction with a dentist if your symptoms persist and become more severe

3. Acupuncture to promote blood flow

Acupuncture needles pictured in a wooden bowl on a wooden table
Acupuncture can help stimulate blood flow to promote the healing of the oral cavity.

A study published in the Medical Acupuncture journal concludes that acupuncture is a safe and non-toxic method to relieve pain from dental disorders and supplement oral hygiene.

According to Physician Yew, “Acupuncture helps with oral health by promoting optimal blood and nutrient circulation within the oral cavity. It stimulates the growth of beneficial oral microbes to maintain a healthy balance of the oral microbiome, which is instrumental in reducing or even avoiding inflammation and other pathological processes.” 

By dispelling disease-causing microbes to unblock meridian channels in the body, acupuncture restores qi and blood circulation to strengthen the functions of vital organs and lay the foundation for good oral health and hygiene. 

You can also promote blood flow with herbal ingredients, such as American Ginseng and Tian Qi capsules. These ingredients work by promoting the flow of qi and reducing pain and swelling.

Other TCM Treatments For Oral Hygiene

Physician Yew also recommends cupping therapy, gua sha (scraping), and tuina (Chinese manual therapy) to help restore balance and as good oral hygiene while treating symptoms of dental disease. Always consult a TCM physician for proper assessment, he cautions, since everyone has their unique body constitution. 

Daily brushing and flossing may already be a part of your oral hygiene practice but adding TCM’s holistic approach to oral care is a great way to boost your body’s natural defenses and protect against disease-causing bacteria.

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