Ancient Wisdom Part 2: Neem datun can work wonders for your dental health; here's how to use it
Neem datun can help fight harmful bacteria and reduce chances of cavities. An Ayurveda expert on how to use this ancient remedy.
Note to readers: Ancient Wisdom is a series of guides that shines a light on age-old wisdom that has helped people for generations with time-honoured wellness solutions to everyday fitness problems, persistent health issues and stress management, among others. Through this series, we try to provide contemporary solutions to your health worries with traditional insights.
Dental issues are becoming more common than ever before due to high intake of sugary items, munching frequently and not eating nutritious diet. When the plaque isn't removed properly, it can lead to cavities. You may have seen your grandparents using neem datun to clean their teeth and wondered if the same can keep your teeth free of cavities too. Neem can help fight harmful bacteria and reduce chances of cavities. But is it a good idea to use neem datun for dental care? Let's discuss. (Also read: Ancient Wisdom Part 1: How to consume ginger for easing constipation; know tips and tricks)
Neem: The 5,000-year-old wonder herb
Azadirachta indica or Neem, the 5,000 year old herb, has been trusted by Ayurveda, Unani and Homoeopathic medicine long before modern medicine gained popularity. All parts of the neem tree be it leaves, seeds, flowers, fruits, bark and roots have been used to treat many diseases and disorders for thousands of years. Neem has been extensively used for the treatment of inflammation, infections, fever, skin diseases and dental disorders.
Neem leaf for instance has immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. It also has compounds that provide protection from high blood sugar, ulcer, malaria, fungal, bacterial, viral infections and also many kinds of cancer.
Why neem datun should be part of your dental care routine?
Ayurveda texts recommend cleaning teeth with twigs of trees that are astringent or bitter in taste. Neem and babool are most popularly used for dental care. Neem has anti-microbial properties that can curb bacterial growth and protect teeth and gum from inflammation.
"Daatun is a part of dincharya (daytime) and ratricharya (nighttime) routine recommended by nearly all the acharyas in the ancient texts. Neem datun should be used early morning and at bed time, to prevent any sort of tooth trouble from gum diseases to cavities," says Ayurveda doctor Dr Zeel Gandhi in an interview with HT Digital.
Expert guide: How to use neem daatun for cleaning your teeth
Ayurveda recommends using twigs of trees which are bitter or astringent since they have cleansing properties and they treat all gum problems.
Dr Zeel shares tips to choose the right datun for cleaning your teeth the Ayurveda way:
- Front part of the datun should be like the edge of the little finger and the back part should be equivalent to thickness of the thumb.
- You should chew on the front part of the datun until it becomes soft like a brush. When you are chewing on these twigs, you are also taking in all the alkaloids that are present in the twig, so you can spit it out or just take it in as it's good for health and can bring along a lot of health benefits.
- Once the edge of the datun is soft enough, move the twig in the upward and downward motion to clean your teeth properly.
- Cleaning of the teeth does not end here. Just like dentists tell you to use mouthwash after brushing, in Ayurveda oil pulling or kawala and gandusha can be done.
Dr Zeel says people using datun are not required to use dental floss as datun can also clean teeth in between the teeth which is not the case with brush which has its own limitations.
"Rinse your mouth with any kind of decoction based on your doshas, age or problems in your mouth. If you have mouth ulcers, you can have decoction of triphala with honey and do kawala or gandhusha. Oil is one of the things you can use for this. This will ensure your gum does not recede," says the Ayurveda expert.
Benefits of neem daatun
Stronger teeth, less cavities
Neem has strong anti-microbial properties and when you start brushing your teeth with neem datun you will see lesser incidence of caries, accumulation of plaque, receding of gum and smell. When your gum recedes, your teeth lose support and become lose so doing neem daatun regularly can keep your teeth stronger for a very long time.
Dr Zeel says while sugar damages teeth, neem has an opposite effect - it protects your pearly whites.
"When we eat, carbs are broken down by the teeth bacteria into sugar and these sugars are broken into acids by bacteria which starts dissolving or damaging your enamel or chalky part of your teeth. You start having sensitivity and other issues. Regularly using neem can prevent these problems," says the Ayurveda expert.
Prevents infections, skin problems
"When you are doing neem datun, apart from stronger teeth and protection against cavities, you are also protected against skin problems and frequent cold and cough infections as you are ingesting a lot of neem - which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties - while chewing on the datun," says Dr Zeel.
Your oral health is closely related to your immunity. When you have a cleansed mouth and balanced PH in the mouth, chances are such infections can be prevented.
Dos and don't while using neem datun
- Daatun should be ideally 12 angula or 12 finger long. One should not go for smaller twigs than that as it will not clean the teeth properly.
- Make sure to not clean your teeth with hard edge as it can damage your gums.
- Chew the edge of your datun until it becomes very soft as to not damage teeth or gum.
- Do not use small-sized neem datun.
Is neem datun for everyone? Who shouldn't use it?
Dr Zeel says that people who have hyperacidity and tendency to have low sugar should go for babool datun instead of neem twig.
- If you are a person who's suffering from hyperacidity, feels weak in the morning and have tendency of low blood sugar, avoid neem datun and use babool instead.
- If you are planning a baby, do not use neem datun as it can reduce sperm count. So those who look forward to better fertility outcome should stay away from neem.
Neem as ancient remedy: Quick facts
- Neem was perhaps first medicinally used around 4500 years ago during Harappa civilization. The evidence of the same was found from the excavations.
- Ancient Indian physician and scholar Charak recommended cleaning teeth with neem datun twice daily long before modern medicine came up with this recommendation.
- Neem was also a part of herbal beauty routine of women from ancient times. Neem could not only treat numerous health issues, but also cured scratches to skin disorders.
- A mixture of neem seed powder, rock salt and alum mixed well can be used for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
Next in series
Hope you enjoyed reading the second part of our series on Ancient Wisdom. Part 3 which discusses benefits of fenugreek seeds for reducing belly fat will be out on September 15. Stay tuned.