Folklore Herbal Remedies Used in Dental Care in Northern India and Their Pharmacological Potential

Vikas Gupta1*, Parveen Bansal1, Renu Bansal2, Payal Mittal3 and Sanjiv Kumar4

1University Centre of Excellence in Research, BFUHS, Faridkot, India

2Departments of Microbiology, GGSMCH, Faridkot, India

3University Institute of Pharma Sciences, Chandigarh University, Mohali, India

4National Medicinal Plant Board, Department of AYUSH, New Delhi, India

*Corresponding Author:
Vikas Gupta
University Centre of Excellence in Research
BFUHS, Faridkot, India
E-mail: [email protected]
Visit for more related articles at American Journal of Ethnomedicine


Objective: The aim of the work was to carry out an ethnopharmacological survey of plants used by trado-medical practitioners (TMPs) and villagers in interior parts of northern India for various diseases of teeth and in dental care.
A survey was conducted about medicinal plants used by these traditional healers in different regions of northern India specially Himachal Pradesh (Shimla, Dharamshala, Kangra, Mandi, Kullu, Manali), Rajasthan (Churu, SriGanganagar, Hanumangarh), Punjab (Sangrur, Ludhiana, Bhatinda, Patiala, Ferozepur, Faridkot), Haryana (Hissar, Jind, Panchkula) and Uttar Pradesh (Agra, Meerut, Moradabad, Mathura) for the treatment of various dental problems. This manuscript is a compilation of herbs being used in folklore medicine by villagers in interior parts of northern India for various diseases of teeth and in dental care. The authors have also tried to collate the pharmacological potentials of these medicinal plants.
Results obtained showed that usage of herbs in dental disorders was maximum in Himachal Pardesh with almost 45 different plants being used by the local people for different disorders. The awareness of usage of plants for dental disorders was very less in Punjab and Haryana. In contrast out of the number of plants given below, a maximum number of 65 plants were present in Punjab and Haryana states.
Even though the efficacy of the remedies alluded to by the respondents cannot be claimed to be exact, the people used more herbal medicine than orthodox. This survey provides a template for dental scientists for further screening and research on these plants and formulates new drugs for dental disorders.


Oral hygiene, Mouthwashes, Dentifrices, Herbal remedies.


The oral cavity contains various important organs and since the oral cavity plays various roles with the various parts inside it, it becomes important to take the best care of it using the effective materials and methods making the best use of the resources that are available for oral hygiene [1,2].

The major teeth problems associated with adults are: Plaque, Tartar, Tooth decay, Gingivitis, Periodontal disease (Periodontitis) [3]. Periodontal diseases affect the tissues surrounding the teeth. Gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease, is generally caused by insufficient oral hygiene. Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to plaque buildup. A variety of triggering factors like bacterial infection can lead to gingivitis. Salivary secretion has an additive effect to these causative factors in causing gingivitis [4]. Plaque-induced gingivitis is one of the most frequent periodontal diseases, affecting more than 90% of the population, regardless of age, sex or race. However, the inability of the normal adult population to perform adequate tooth brushing has led to the search for chemotherapeutic agents in order to improve plaque control [5]. Tooth brushing with toothpaste is the most widely practiced form of oral hygiene in most countries [6]. Twice daily brushing has significantly declined dental caries. Dental plaque is a bio-film on the tooth surface that plays an important role in the development of caries and periodontal diseases [7]. While the mechanical removal of plaque on caries per se is equivocal, the maintenance of an effective plaque control program is the cornerstone of any attempt to prevent and control periodontal diseases [8]. A wide range of chemicals, mainly antimicrobial agents, have been added to toothpastes in order to produce a direct inhibitory effect on plaque formation [6,9]. These chemicals, mainly Triclosan and chlorhexidine, have been used as mouth rinses or added to dentifrices to avoid plaque formation and development of gingivitis [5,10-12]. As some of these substances may have undesirable side effects, such as tooth staining and taste alteration, phytotherapeutic agents with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties have been investigated [13-15].

Ethno-medico-botany is one of the tools that deal with the direct relationship of plants and men to prevent and cure ailments [16]. There is a long and venerable history of the use of plants to improve dental health and promote oral hygiene [17]. There are many natural ways and herbs to treat dental disease like inflammation and infection some of which even help in prevention. A Saudi Arabian study compared the effect of miswak or tooth brushing on plaque removal and dental health reflecting a better efficacy through miswak [18].

It is worthwhile to find out plant based good alternatives for better dental care. It is important to know about folklore claims being used by different vaids, hakims, traditional healers and local practitioners. The purpose of this communication is to put all the herbs being used as folklore medicine by people in remote areas at a single platform so as to enable the dental scientists to explore and formulate new drugs for dental disorders.


There is a scarcity of dental practitioners all over the country particularly in the rural and remote areas. A number of plants are used in the tribal medicine for the treatment of various dental ailments. So a folklore survey was taken up to identify the plants of medicinal importance available in mainly four states of northern India.

A Field survey was conducted in cultivation lands during 2010-2014 in and around district head quarters and discussion with the agriculturists, local medical practitioners, vaids, hakims and traditional healers were held for use of herbs in various disorders. Information regarding these plants was recorded. The information procured was validated by comparing the information given by two or three people. The medicinal uses of these plants were recorded from the folk lore claims and the standard literature of the Indian systems of medicine. An effort has been made to highlight the traditional use of the part of the plant used so as to enable the scientists in this field to get the information of the herbs actively used in the dental disease treatment and general care at a single platform.

The medicinal uses of these plants used in the Indian system of medicine are enumerated as in Table 1.

Table 1. List of plant used in various dental problems

Sr. No Plant name (Common name) Family Uses Part used
1. Abuta grandifolia (Mart.)
Sandwith (Abota)
Menispermaceae Toothache Leaves, bark,
Stems & roots
2. Acacia modesta Wall. (India phulai) Mimosaceae To clean teeth Twig & Stem
3. Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile
(Egyptian Acacia)
Mimosoideae Swollen gum
4. Acalypha indica L. (Indian
Euphorbiaceae Toothache Whole plant
5. Achyranthes aspera L. (Devil's
Amaranthaceae Toothache Leaves and
6. Adansonia digitata L. (Baobab) Bombacaceae Toothache Bark
7. Alchornea cordifolia Müll.Arg
Euphorbiaceae Toothache Whole plant
8. Allium sativum L. (Ajo) Liliaceae Toothache Bulb
9. Aloe ferox Mill.
Liliaceae Toothache Leaves
10. Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f. (Indian Aloe) Asphodelaceae Gingivitis &
Whole plant
11. Anacardiun occidentlae L.
(Acajuba occidentalis)
Anacardiaceae Toothache, Sore
Whole plant
12. Annona senegalensis Pers.
(Wild custard apple)
Annonaceae Toothache Bark
13. Argemone maxicana Linn. (Mexican
Papaverceae Toothache and
14. Aristolochia
Guentheri O.C. Schmidt (Zaragosa)
Aristolacaceae Toothache Stem
15. Azadiarchta indica A.Juss. (Neem) Meliaceae Toothache Whole plant
16. Baptisia australis (L.)R. Br. (Blue
Wild Indigo)
Fabaceae Toothache Root
17. Blighia sapida K.D.Koenig (Akee) Sapindaceae Mouth ulcer Whole plant
18. Borassus flabillifer Linn.
Arecaceae Toothache Root, Young
19. Bridelia ferruginea Benth. (Kizni) Euphorbiaceae Mouth rashes Whole plant
20. Brugmansia aurea Lagerheim
Solanaceae Toothache Flowers
21. Cajanus cajan (linn.) Millsp.
Fabaceae Gingivitis Leaves, stem,
22. Calotropis gigantea (L) R.Br.
Asclepidaceae Toothache Roots
23. Capparis spinosa L.
(Caper bush)
Capparaceae Toothache Root bark
24. Cassia occidentalis L. (Fedegoso) Leguminosae Toothache Leaves
25. Cinnamomum camphora L. (Camphor tree) Lauraceae Toothache, Gum swelling Leaves and branches
26. Curcuma longa Linn.
Zingaberaceae Toothache,
27. Cleome chelidonii Linn.f.
Cleomaceae Gingivitis Whole plant
28. Clitoria ternatea L.
(Butterfly pea)
Fabeaceae Toothache Roots
29. Cocos nucifera Linn. (Coconut palm) Arecaceae Toothache Fruits
30. Cornus florida L.
(Dogwood tree)
Cornaceae To clean teeth Stem
31. Croton Menthodorus Benth.
Euphorbiaceae Toothache Seeds, leaves
32. Datura stramonium Linn.
Solanaceae Toothache Roots
33. Dialium guineense Wild.
(Velvet tamarind)
Leguminosae Toothache Root
34. Ekebergia senegalensis A Juss. (Cape ash) Meliaceae Toothache Leaves
35. Eruca sativa Miller
Cruciferae Toothache Leaves
36. Erythrina lysistemon Hutch.
(Coral tree)
Fabaceae Toothache Bark
37. Eucalyptus globulus Labill.
(Blue Gum)
Myrtaceae Gum
Whole plant
38. Euclea divinorum Hiern (Magic gwarra) Ebenaceae Toothache Bark, Leaves
39. Euclea natalensis A.DC. (Large-leaved guarri) Ebenaceae Toothache Leaves
40. Eucleapseudebenus E. Meyer ex A.DC.
(Black ebony)
Ebenaceae To clean teeth Root
41. Fagonia cretica L.
(Cretan prickly clover)
Zygophyllaceae Toothache Whole plant
42. Ferula assafoetida Linn.
Apeaceae Dental carries Gum resin
43. Ficus insipid Willd.
Moraceae Toothache Latex
44. Ficus bengalensis L. (Indian fig) Moraceae Toothache Plant juice
45. Flacourtia flavescens Wild. (Niger plum) Flacourtiaceae Toothache Root
46. Garcinia cola Heckel. (Bitter kola) Guttiferae To clean teeth Root
47. Jasminum arborescens Roxb.
Oleaceae Mouth rashes Leaves
48. Jasminum officinale L.
Oleaceae Mouth rashes Flower
49. Jatropha curcas Linn. (Arandi) Euphorbiaceae Pyorrhoea Fruit
50. Juglan regia Linn.
Juglandaceae To clean teeth Bark
51. Justicia adhatoda L.
(Malabar Nut)
Acanthaceae Pyorrhoea Leaves
52. Kleinia longiflora DC
Asteraceae Toothache Stem
53. Licopersicon esculentum Mill.
Solanaceae Mouth rashes Fruit
54. Lophira alata Banks ex C.F.Gaertn (Bongossi) Ochnaceae Toothache Bark
55. Mangifera indica L.
Anacardiaceae Sore gum Whole plant
56. Micromeria biflora Benth.
(English lavender)
Labiate Toothache Root
57. Milicia excels (Welw.) C.C. Berg (African-teak) Moraceae Toothache Bark
58. Musanga cecropioides R. Br. (Umbrella tree) Cecropiaceae Toothache Bark
59. Myrothamnusuifolius Wblw. (Resurrection bush) Myrothamnaceae Gum inflamation Leaves
60. Nicotiana tabacum L. (Tobaco) Solanaceae Toothache Leaves
61. Ocimum sanctum Linn.
Lamiaceae Mouth sores Leaves
62. Olax subscorpoidea Oliv. (Akan-Brong) Olacaceae Toothache Whole plant
63. Olea ferruginea Royle
(Wild Olive)
Oleaceae Toothache Fruits
64. Origanum vulgare L.
Labiateae Toothache Whole plant oil
65. Orthanthera albida Schinz.
(Ana tree)
Asclepiadaceae To clean teeth Stem
66. Palisota hirsute (Thunb.) K. Schum. (Akan-Asante) Commelinaceae Toothache Stem, leaves
67. Parinari curatellifolia
Planch.Ex Benth (Cork tree)
Chrysobalanceae Toothache Bark
68. Phylla dulcis (Trev.) Mold
(Aztec Sweet Herb)
Verbenaceae Tooth decay Leaves
69. Polyalthia suaveolens Engl. & Diels (Annickia) Annonaceae Toothache Fruits, roots and leaves
70. Punica granatum Linn.
Puniaceae Mouth sores Fruit covers
71. Ricinus communis L.
(Castor bean)
Euphorbiaceae Toothache Seeds
72. Saccharum officinarum L.
(Sugar cane)
Graminaceae Strengthens the
Whole plant
73. Salvadora Persica L. (Tooth brush tree) Salvadoraceae Tooth decay Whole plant
74. Salvia campanulata Wall. (Kokai) Lamiaceae Toothache Whole plant
75. Salvia officinalis L.
Lamiaceae Sore gums Whole plant
76. Sanguinaria canadensis L.
(Blood root)
Papaveraceae Tooth lose Whole plant
77. Scoparia dulcis Linn.
Scrophulariaceae Toothache Leaves
78. Solanum incanum L.
(Thorn Apple)
Solanaceae Toothache Root
79. Solanum panduriforme
(Yellow Bitter-apple)
Solanaceae Toothache Roots
80. Spathodia campanulata Pal.
(African tulip)
Bignoniaceae Toothache Bark
81. Spilanthes americana Hieron
Asteraceae Toothache Whole palnt
82. Syzygium aromaticum (L.)Merr. (Clove) Myrtaceae Toothache Whole plant
83. Vitis vinifera L.
(Grape vine)
Vitaceae To clean teeth Plant ash
84. Xanthium spinosum L.
(Amor seco)
Asteraceae Toothache Fruits,
leaves, roots
85. Zanthoxylum alatum D.C.
Rutaceae To clean teeth Twigs
86. Zanthoxylum zanthoxyloides (Lam.) Zeprm.
(Candlewood Tree)
Rutaceae Toothache Whole plant
87. Ziziphus mauritiana Lam.
Rahamnaceae Dental carries Root


The folklore survey was done in various districts in Himachal Pradesh (Shimla, Dharamshala, Kangra, Mandi, Kullu, Manali,) Rajasthan (Churu, SriGanganagar, Hanumangarh), Punjab (Sangrur, Ludhiana, Bhatinda, Patiala, Ferozepur, Faridkot), Haryana (Hissar, Jind, Panchkula) and in Uttar Pradesh (Agra, Meerut, Moradabad, Mathura). It was observed that usage of herbs in dental disorders was maximum in Himachal Pardesh with almost 45 different plants being used by the local people for different disorders. The awareness of usage of plants for dental disorders was very less in Punjab and Haryana whereas it was maximum in Himachal Pardesh. In contrast out of the number of plants given below, a maximum number of 65 plants were present in Punjab and Haryana states. The list of the plants with Botanical name, family, common name, medicinal uses of dental importance (Ayurveda and Siddha) and useful parts is mentioned in the alphabetical order of the botanical name of the plants. The list of plants used in various dental problems are listed in table 1.


Plants contain phytochemical such as alkaloids, tannins, essential oils and flavonoids which have pronounced antimicrobial activity. From the survey it becomes evident there are a number of plants which have got active constituents for anti-inflammatory activity, astringent activity, antimicrobial activity and analgesic property. This underlies the use of these plants since to improve oral hygiene and prevent tooth decay, gum disease and periodontitis. The miswak or chewing stick is an underestimated tool for dental hygiene which is only beginning to be explored in controlled clinical studies. So this survey may help the researchers to explore these medicinal plants for further clinical research.


Authors are thankful to all traditional healers, agriculturists, folklore practitioners for providing relevant information. Authors are also thankful to authorities of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, Punjab for permission to conduct this survey.

Conflict of interest



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