Triphala Ayurvedic Remedy Fights Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

triphala gum disease amla

Triphala helps prevent gum disease and cavities. Amla pictured here.

Studies from multiple dental schools have confirmed that an ancient Ayurvedic herbal remedy called Triphala prevents dental decay by naturally reducing oral bacteria that cause plaque, gingivitis and tooth decay.

What is Triphala?

Triphala, has been used medicinally for intestinal issues, immunity problems and other conditions for thousands of years within the Ayurvedic medical system – the oldest known medical system.

Triphala is made by combining three traditional medicinal herbs: Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica) and Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica or Emblica officinalis). The name Triphala means “three fruits.” It is often used for stomach and intestinal issues. But now we find it is useful for helping to fight gum disease.

Triphala tested against other antiseptics

In a 2018 study, researchers from India’s Government Medical College and Government Dental College tested five different potential antiseptic products. Their tests were performed in the laboratory using 60 premolar teeth extracted from humans.

The researchers divided the teeth into five groups. They tested the teeth for bacteria colony counts, specifically E. faecalis, a common gum disease bacteria. Then they applied five different agents to the five groups of teeth:

  • Distilled water
  • Sodium hypochlorite (conventional antiseptic)
  • Noni extract (Morinda citrifolia)
  • Green tea polyphenol extract
  • Ayurvedic Triphala

The researchers tested each group in a laboratory culture autoclave for two days. Then they retested the colony counts for each of the teath and analyzed the results.

Not surprisingly, the distilled water did little to reduce the bacteria, from 948 billion CFUs to 944 billion. Meanwhile, the noni reduced counts from 980 billion to 158 billion. And the green tea polyphenols reduced counts from 980 billion to 57 billion.

Also not surprisingly. they found that the sodium hypochlorite solution was the best at reducing bacteria counts in the teeth. The E. faecalis bacteria was reduced from 939 billion CFUs to 0.67 billion CFUs. But the Triphala came in a close second, reducing bacteria counts from 940 billion CFUs to 16 billion.

The reason why this is significant is because sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) is not healthy for the gums. Yes, it can reduce bacteria. But it can also produce inflammation in the gums and has been shown to harm or destroy cells among the tissues. When applied between the gum and teeth it typically causes pain and swelling. Therefore, a more natural antiseptic is preferred.

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That’s why these results for Triphala are important.

Triphala tested in clinical study

Researchers from India’s DAPMRV Dental College tested a 6% Triphala mouthwash using 60 student volunteers, aged between 18 and 25 years old. The volunteers were divided into three groups. One group was given the Triphala mouthwash, another group was given a chlorhexidine mouthwash – an antibacterial mouthwash often prescribed by conventional dentists and doctors for gingivitis and other oral infections – and a third group rinsed with water only.

All three groups used their mouthwashes twice a day for seven days.

Before and after the testing period, and two days into the testing period, the subjects were tested for their levels of oral bacteria, specifically the types known to cause periodontal disease, dental decay and gingivitis, such as mutans streptococci. The colony forming units (CFUs) of each were measured and compared.

Those using the Triphala mouthwash had an average 17% reduction in dental decay bacteria after 48 hours, and 44% reduction after seven days. The chlorhexidine group had similar reductions, with an average 16% reduction in dental decay bacteria, with a 45% after seven days. The control group had little change in decay bacteria.

The researchers concluded:

“Triphala has been used in Ayurveda from time immemorial and has many potential systemic benefits. The promising results shown by Triphala call for further investigations of its antimicrobial effects against the numerous oral microorganisms.”

Other Triphala research

This is not the first study that has indicated Triphala’s ability to reduce oral bacteria. In a study from India’s Kannur Dental College, another clinical trial compared Triphala mouthwash with a chlorhexidine mouthwash and two brand name commercial antibacterial mouthwashes advertised as able to inhibit plaque formation.

This study used 30 human subjects that were tested in a crossover design with all four mouthwashes. The study found that the Triphala mouthwash reduced oral decay bacteria similarly to the chlorhexidine mouthwash and one of the brand name mouthwashes.

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In another study, this from India’s National Dental College, 50 human subjects were tested. They were given a Triphala-containing mouthwash or a chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash. In this study the Triphala-containing mouthwash was found effective in significantly reducing plaque formation among the subjects, at only a slightly less rate than that achieved from the chlorhexidine gluconate. The subjects also preferred the herbal mouthwash to the chemical mouthwash.

This particular mouthwash also contained neem, tulsi, pudina, clove oil and ajwain.

In another study from the DAPMRV Dental College, Triphala mouthwash was found to reduce pathogenic oral bacteria by up to 83% over a 15 day period.

Triphala versus chlorhexidine

There is yet another reason to consider Triphala for helping to reduce dental decay and periodontal disease. That is, besides not having to use sodium hypochlorite treatments. Conventional mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine can also be toxic.

Chlorhexidine has been shown to be toxic to aquatic organisms and has been linked to neurotoxicity and acute toxicity in humans. It is also considered a potential carcinogen. While mouthwash products containing chlorhexidine maintain very small quantities – such as 0.2%, certainly there is reason to avoid such a toxin even in low doses.

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In addition, the dumping of chlorhexidine and other chemicals into our waterways through our sinks, toilets, bathtubs and manufacturing facilities can serve to strain our ability to maintain clean drinking water supplies.

Triphala, on the other hand, has been known to provide an array of healthy, medicinal effects. These include having anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, analgesic, adaptogenic and anti-anxiety effects. It has been shown to help prevent cancer from radiation. It has been shown to relieve gastric hyperacidity, constipation and appetite problems. It has been shown to increase wound healing and it has adaptogenic capabilities. Other research shows Triphala helps with gastrointestinal issues.

Sounds like a better mouthwash choice!

REFERENCES:

Divia AR, Nair MG, Varughese JM, Kurien S. A comparative evaluation of Morinda citrifolia, green tea polyphenols, Triphala and sodium hypochlorite as anendodontic irrigant against Enterococcus faecalis: An in vitro study. Dent Res J (Isfahan). 2018 Mar-Apr;15(2):117-122.

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Shanbhag VK. Triphala in prevention of dental caries and as an antimicrobial in oral cavity- a review. Infect Disord Drug Targets. 2015;15(2):89-97.

Srinagesh J, Krishnappa P, Somanna SN. Antibacterial efficacy of triphala against oral streptococci. Indian J Dent Res. 2012 Sep;23(5):696.

Narayan A, Mendon C. Comparing the effect of different mouthrinses on de novo plaque formation. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2012 Jul 1;13(4):460-3.

Malhotra R, Grover V, Kapoor A, Saxena D. Comparison of the effectiveness of a commercially available herbal mouthrinse with chlorhexidine gluconate at the clinical and patient level. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2011 Oct;15(4):349-52.

Srinagesh J, Pushpanjali K. Assessment of antibacterial efficacy of triphala against mutans streptococci: a randomised control trial. Oral Health Prev Dent. 2011;9(4):387-93.

Tambekar DH, Dahikar SB. Antibacterial activity of some Indian Ayurvedic preparations against enteric bacterial pathogens. J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2011 Jan;2(1):24-9.

Bajaj N, Tandon S. The effect of Triphala and Chlorhexidine mouthwash on dental plaque, gingival inflammation, and microbial growth. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2011 Jan;2(1):29-36.

Baliga MS, Meera S, Mathai B, Rai MP, Pawar V, Palatty PL. Scientific validation of the ethnomedicinal properties of the Ayurvedic drug Triphala: a review. Chin J Integr Med. 2012 Dec;18(12):946-54.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn our health around. As I drove home that night, I realized this knowledge should be available to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.”

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