Honey! Natural Treatment for Gum Disease

There is quite a bit of talk going on about the antimicrobial properties of the sweetener, Xylitol, which is a product manufactured from cornstalks. The dental hygienist community (discussion groups) is where I am seeing most of this and my understanding is that it is a pretty good product as a sweetener and good for your teeth and gums. Something made me think, however, about going more natural and 'honey' came to mind. I wondered about the antimicrobial properties of this natural and healthy food and what I found really surprised me!

I was abble to learn quite a bit about honey's properties - Yes, honey is a good antimicrobial and has a great number of applications for treating all sorts of ailments aside from gum disease. Everything from eczema to prostate problems are being effectively treated with honey... Honey!

Before you run to the cupboard, however, you should know that the variety of honeys are widely varied in their effectiveness, so not all types are the same.

Some honeys are apparently no better for your teeth than refined sugar, but at the other end of the spectrum, there are varieties which are outstanding for their antimicrobial properties. It appears that the majority of research on honey's antimicrobial properties and effectiveness in treating gum disease come out of New Zealand in the past dozen years. Most of this may be attributable to Dr. Peter C. Molan, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.

"Honey contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide which is believed to be the main reason for the antimicrobial activity of honey. Types of honey differ greatly in their antimicrobial potency, varying as much as a hundred fold. The research has shown that honey not only stops the growth of the dental plaque bacteria, it reduces the amount of acid produced, which stops the bacteria from producing dextran. Dextran, a component of dental plaque, is the gummy polysaccharide that the bacteria produce in order to adhere to the surface of the teeth."

Honey derived from the Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) tree, found in abundance in New Zealand, claims the highest potency of antimicrobial properties. In fact, Manuka honey's antibacterial factor is unaffected by enzymes in the body that destroy hydrogen peroxide components. (Normally, peroxide isn't considered a good antimicrobial, orally, because the body quickly dilutes it.) It also has an exceptionally high level of plant-derived antimicrobial activity. Antioxidants in honey also prevent the formation of free radicals and the nutrient supply of honey is an important factor in new tissue re-growth, having been damaged by infection.

In addition, a 'medicinal' honey has been developed in New Zealand and Queensland, Australia to fight against 'superbugs,' such as multiple-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), attributable to a reported 100 deaths a week in the UK, according to one report.

"Laboratory testing is required to establish the level of anti-bacterial activity in honey. The honey is compared with a standard reference antiseptic (phenol) for potency. So, for example, a honey with a rating of four would be equivalent in antiseptic potency to a four percent solution of phenol (carbolic disinfectant). Honey should have a rating of four or higher before it can be regarded as a 'Active Honey'. Laboratory tests have shown to be very effective against bacteria, the rating should be at least ten but does not need to be any greater. Honey New Zealand produces a range of Active Honeys: Manuka, Rewarewa and Wild Flora.

"Manuka honey has UMF (this stands for Unique Manuka Factor) in addition to the usual hydrogen peroxide anti-bacterial activity making it doubly potent. UMF honey is more effective than hydrogen peroxide against some types of bacteria. The level of UMF activity is found in laboratory testing by removing the hydrogen peroxide from the honey and using the same test method for testing an 'active honey'. A rating is found describing the anti-bacterial activity remaining in the honey after the hydrogen peroxide has been removed. This is called Active UMF 10+. UMF is an additional anti-bacterial component that is unique to Manuka Honey. No-one for the scientific discoveries of New Zealand active honeys has so far discovered the substance involved, so it is called UMF." (Honey New Zealand)

How is the honey used on the teeth? Some recommend simply rubbing it into the gums after brushing. Since Manuka honey retains it's antimicrobial properties when diluted up to 50 times, it may likely be able to be used as an oral irrigant (when diluted with distilled or filtered water) and directed between the teeth or sub-gingivally into periodontal pockets using an oral irrigator. However, since the honey can ferment, it is recommended that the solution be used immediately and not made up ahead of time and stored for later use. (It should be noted that honey is not to be given to infants under 24 months.)

For those who would like to see some science, here's a pdf file containing plenty of it: http://bio.waikato.ac.nz/pdfs/honeyresearch/bioactives.pdf In addition, you may go to the Waikato Honey Research Unit web site at: http://bio.waikato.ac.nz/honey/ .

One final note: Apparently many brands are calling themselves 'Manuka' honey. For the real thing, look for the UMF Trademark, even if it has 'UMF' in the name.

All our lives we've been told to stay away from sweets. Maybe now its time to do a hundred and eighty degree on that line of thought - at least with honey, anyway!

Tom Cornwell hosts the OraMedia Site for Dental Self Sufficiency at http://mizar5.com and publishes a monthly newsletter for people interested in keeping their teeth and gums healthier. More on honey at http://mizar5.com/honey.html

Hot Topics In Dental Health

    Teeth Whitening at Home or in the Dentist Office

    Everybody wants white teeth because they bring along a beautiful smile that can make the difference between failure and success. But white teeth are very rare to find. Why? Because of our life stile: ...

    Take Care Of Your Teeth

    By now we are all aware of the importance of keeping ourselves in good health. Anyone who has a television or access to the internet knows that our health is one of the most valuable things we have. W...

    Top 5 Most Popular Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

    I've outlined in this article the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures so you can compare and research them further.

    First Place: Bridges, Dental Partials. Custom made false tooth or teeth t...

    Cosmetic Dentistry To Boost Self Esteem

    Cosmetic dentistry is the branch of dental science that deals with appearance of a patient's teeth and oral cavity as opposed to the prevention and treatment of disease or major dental reconstruction....

    Dental Insurance and Discount Dental Plans

    There are two primary types of dental health care benefits. You may get dental insurance, or sign up for a discount dental plan. There are differences between the two of which you should be aware.


    Dental Family Insurance Plan

    We all are a part of a family. We were born in a family and live with one. People may come and people may go, but families go on for ever.

    Family dental plan insurance is something that concerns eve...

    Home Remedies for Curing Bad Breath

    Who would want to have bad breath or halitosis? I don't think anybody would want to have bad breath. Unfortunately, no matter how much we hated to have one if we do not take good care our oral and den...

    Top 5 Cosmetic Dentistry Frequently Asked Questions

    I will outline in this cosmetic dentistry article the most frequently asked questions along with their answers, you will sure find them useful for your cosmetic dentistry research.

    First Question: C...

    Teeth Whitening Treatments Pros and Cons

    White teeth can give your confidence a boost, you are less self conscious of smiling and it makes you feel more attractive. Everyone wants a nice bright smile. White teeth are associated with youth an...

    The Focal Infection Theory, While Rarely Talked About Now

    Copyright 2006 SSLI Health Group

    The gum crevices surrounding every tooth, and particularly between teeth, are loaded with bacteria, plus food debris and calculus deposits which also contain bacteri...

    Who Wants a Discount Dental Insurance?

    The good, the bad and the ugly - well, these are always the part of anything you look at. And so why don't we now look at the good and the bad of discount dental insurance.

    It is very hard to come y...

    Teeth Whitening kits can brighten your teeth in under a week!

    With the quality teeth whitening products available today it is true that You will see a difference in your teeth in 7 days or less!

    Companies that sell teeth whitening kits target markets based on ...

Most Recent Dental Health Supplements

Newly Popular Health Articles

    How To Treat Sleep Deprivation Using CPAP

    Treating sleep deprivation using CPAP is considered as an effective treatment strategy. Sleep derivation is the condition in which the patient cannot experience a continuous sleep. It is considered to...

    Plantar Warts Explained

    Warts (including plantar warts) are a viral (verruca vulgaris) infection of the skin. They are contracted by coming in direct contact with the virus.

    If you've ever stepped barefoot into a locker ro...

    Is Lasik Surgery Covered By Insurance?

    Lasik surgery is an eye vision correction method that has been growing in popularity. Lasik surgery can greatly improve eyesight, eliminating the use of eye glasses or contact lenses. It's a relativel...

    How Much Does Laser Eye Surgery Typically Cost?

    The cost of laser eye surgery can vary greatly depending on the type of surgery to be performed, the patient's prescription, the equipment used, and the doctor or surgical provider in question. There ...

    Diet And Sperm Quality

    There comes a time in most committed relationships where couples decide that they want to bring a child into the world. Visions of chubby newborns dance in the heads of baby's mom and dad while hopes ...

    Diet Soda; Is It Good Or Bad If You Are On A Diet?

    The debate over whether diet soda is a dieter's friend or a dieter's enemy seems to become more heated every day.

    One side is saying diet soda is a great beverage for people trying to lose weight an...

    Functional Food: Preventing Diseases and Promoting Pet Health

    Food and diet play an important role in health. Every day, research in fields such as epidemiology and nutritional biochemistry teach us more about this relationship. Through scientific investigation ...

    Mosquito Bites - Remedy And Repellents

    It's a nice summer day and you're relaxing in your yard. Suddenly, you feel something bite you. You may begin to itch, when another bite takes place, and then another. It's those pesky mosquitoes agai...

    A Brief History Of Hip Replacement Surgery

    Hip replacement is a medical procedure in which the hip joint is replaced by a synthetic implant. It is the most successful, cheapest and safest form of joint replacement surgery. The earliest recorde...

    A Practical 12-Month Organic Living Plan

    We can talk and think about something until cows fly!

    But it's what we actually DO, that matters; that creates results.

    If you've been thinking and talking about eating and using more organic prod...

Interesting Today:

Most Recent Health Blogs:

Releated to Health:

Dental Health Links: