Is Turmeric a New Oral Health Superfood?

Turmeric, a plant that’s part of the ginger family, is in the spotlight these days for ways it may help support joint and digestive health. Taking turmeric may be effective in lowering cholesterol, reducing hay fever, improving function for people with arthritis and more. Some research is even pointing to the plant’s possible healing qualities when it comes to dental inflammation.

For centuries, products made from botanicals, or plants, have been used for homeopathic purposes. Some are swallowed as pills, others brewed, and some even used in lotions, sprays and creams. Think gingko, evening primrose, flax seed, echinacea and lavender as just some examples.

Can Curcumin Help Fight Gum Disease?

The plant turmeric contains the nontoxic chemical compound curcumin, a primary ingredient in curry powder. Some research discusses how curcumin is formulated with bromelain (a group of enzymes) to enhance absorption and the compound’s reportedly anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial effects. A few studies suggest that curcumin can even help fight gum disease by reducing plaque.

Dental Applications

We’ve been reading about turmeric spice in commercial mouthwash and toothpaste and even homemade concoctions. Possible dental applications may include turmeric helping to:

  • soothe pain and swelling
  • reduce and prevent inflammation
  • tackle plaque control by helping reduce microbial count
  • reduce the pain and symptoms of certain mouth ulcers

The Bottom Line

Even though turmeric is considered safe and nontoxic, there’s not enough scientific evidence out there yet for us to feel totally comfortable discussing specific turmeric formulations for oral use. Many of today’s studies are based on small sample sizes, so the jury is still out before we can give our full stamp of approval or make concrete patient recommendations.

In the meantime, enjoy that pinch of turmeric in your favorite Indian dish and know you may be treating more than your tastebuds to some nice health benefits!