What to Know About Turmeric in Dental Care

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 27, 2021
3 min read

Turmeric, a member of the ginger plant family, is commonly used as a cooking spice and a medicinal substance in many natural healing traditions. Recently, there have been a handful of studies about turmeric’s effectiveness in treating dental issues and helping with the upkeep of teeth.

There is some evidence that using turmeric can significantly benefit your teeth. 

Turmeric is originally from southeast Asia and is mainly grown in India today. Most of its health uses originate in India from Aryvedic -- ancient Indian medicine. However, other countries and cultures have also adopted using turmeric as a medicine, including Japan, Korea, and China. 

Turmeric is known to have antioxidants. It's also known for its ability to bring anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-carcinogenic, and antimutagenic healing qualities to different medical situations. As well as dental care, turmeric has been used for a wide variety of medical situations.

Turmeric can:

  • Help joint health 
  • Treat the digestive system
  • Help get worms out of the body
  • Ease menstrual problems
  • Help get rid of gallstones
  • Disinfect cuts, wounds, and burns
  • Alleviate gas
  • Soothe skin infections
  • Help mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Cleanse the liver
  • Lower cholesterol

The active ingredient of turmeric that can give the most health benefits is called curcumin. For health issues, it's often mixed or used with an enzyme called bromelain. This can help your body’s absorb curcumin properly.

Turmeric can help:

Ease inflammation. There are many dental issues that cause inflammation. The two most common of these are gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is a gum disease where you have redness and irritation. Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis or gum disease, is when the soft tissue of your mouth is infected and becomes inflamed.

One study said that turmeric toothpaste can reduce plaque and inflammation. It can be used to both treat and prevent inflammation. 

Prevent cavities. Turmeric has been shown to reduce the presence of bacteria that causes cavities. There is a technique of protectively sealing teeth against cavities called pit and fissure sealants. Using turmeric in combination with these pit and fissure sealants has been a very effective treatment for cavities. 

Detect plaque. Turmeric can help show how much plaque you have and where your plaque is located in your mouth. Using turmeric’s naturally vibrant, yellow color, your dentist dyes your plaque yellow. Then with the use of a certain light device, your plaque will be visible. 

Ease infection. As a known antibacterial, turmeric can be used to reduce the infection within root canals. However, this is a more experimental use of turmeric and is not recommended as the only treatment for an infected root canal.

Drug Delivery System. Using turmeric paste to help deliver drugs to treat different dental problems is a pretty well-studied phenomenon. It has been found to effectively deliver local drugs as well as soothe the gums involved with whatever treatment is being done.

Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis (RAS). RAS is a widespread inflammatory issue where you repeatedly have very painful mouth ulcers. These ulcers come and go, healing and reappearing very quickly. Turmeric is a known remedy to help reduce the pain and other symptoms of these ulcers. 

‌Precancerous Lesions. Turmeric can significantly help to lessen the presence and symptoms of precancerous sores and lesions. However, it is essential to use much higher doses of concentrated turmeric if you are using it in this context. 

Some of the uses of turmeric are not practical for the average person to use in their home. However, that doesn't mean that you can't access turmeric’s healing powers on your own. While it may not solve many dental problems on its own, turmeric is very effective in symptom management. 

You can:

Rinse your mouth with turmeric powder. You can create a mouthwash of turmeric by boiling turmeric powder, cloves, guava leaves, and water together. As well as helping to treat gingivitis and periodontal disease, this mouthwash can help reduce inflammation and pain in general. Make sure to let the mixture cool before you use it. 

Massage your teeth with roasted turmeric powder. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties can be utilized in helping to reduce pain in aching teeth.  

Use a paste made from turmeric. Another excellent treatment for periodontitis and gingivitis is a paste using salt and mustard oil. Simply use your fingers to massage the teeth and gums twice a day.