How Garlic Fights Gum Disease, Cavities, and Toothaches

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Garlic has been used for medicinal purposes since 3000 B.C. Allicin, the same stuff that gives you garlic breath is responsible for garlic’s antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.

This same property in garlic can also help fight gum disease.

There are more than 500 different species of bacteria that naturally reside in your mouth. Some of these bacteria are beneficial to health and others aren’t. Keeping your mouth healthy is all about keeping the good and bad bacteria in balance. This, among other things, helps prevent gum disease.

Allicin prevents the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay from proliferating in the mouth. Several studies concluded that the use of garlic extract could help combat periodontitis (gum disease) by controlling the population of the bad bacteria and letting the good bacteria thrive.

Far too many oral health products claim to fight gum disease by killing “99.9% of bacteria,” but this misguided. When you kill all bacteria, the regrowth rate of the good and the bad are different, such that you can create an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, which can harm oral health and the health of the rest of the body.

This is why I’d love to see toothpaste with allicin added! No need to make the toothpaste garlic flavored, though…

tooth decay

How to reap the benefits?

You can take garlic (allicin) as a supplement along with your vitamins.

Or, make garlic a regular part of your cooking. Garlic is highly nutritious, yet has very few calories. I like keeping crushed garlic in the freezer for a really easy, no-mess way to add garlic to my omelets in the morning. Dorot, which I get at Trader Joe’s, keeps crushed garlic in little frozen cubes in a tray.

Don’t eat garlic only for your oral health. Garlic has also been shown to reduce the length of the common cold by 70%, from 5 days in a placebo group to just 1.5 days in the group given a garlic supplement. This is thought to be thanks to allicin’s ability to boost the body’s immune system.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Read Next: The Five Best Foods for Optimal Oral Health


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  1. Deanna R. Jones says:

    I’ve heard a lot about how garlic is good for your health, but I didn’t know that it’s also good for maintaining oral health. It’s interesting how the allicin found in garlic is shown to prevent the bad bacteria in your mouth from causing tooth decay. That would explain why my mom has healthier teeth than I do. She loves eating foods with garlic, so she must be getting high levels of allicin that help her have the bright smile that she has. It seems like I should keep that in mind the next time I smell garlic on her breath when I visit her. Thanks for the information!

  2. I always knew that garlic was a super food, but never did I know that it could be so beneficial to ones oral health. Thank God that I was thought to always cook with garlic. does this information also applies to babies and toddlers?

  3. Thank you Dr. Mark for sharing these tips on garlic.

  4. I’ve seen so many tips on alternative health websites over the years recommending garlic for dental health. It’s good to see there’s finally some solid research to back up those claims.

    Question though — garlic is frequently recommended as an instant cure for toothache. On the few occasions in my life when I’ve had toothache, I’ve found this true. Surely that is not because of its effect on oral bacteria, so what’s the mechanism of action?

  5. Heather Eck says:

    Does chewing raw garlic have any negative effect on tooth enamel? It seems like it could damage it by being too acidic. If not, is there any benefit to rubbing raw garlic directly on the teeth or the gums?

    • Long story short. My grandfather was sent to a Siberian prison camp for 3 years in the 1930’s with four of his friends. He would scavenge wild garlic along the fence line and rub it on his gums daily. No toothbrush. He suvived with most of his teeth. His four friends died.

  6. The French used Garlic for centuries for toothache peel the garlic and bite on a lump in or near the tooth hold the garlic around the tooth for a few minutes ,be careful it can burn your tougne a bit but cures tooth and gum problems

  7. Raw garlic on an infected cavity teeth is good
    Or remove cavity completely
    If we take 1 one raw garlic and chew the infected teeth.
    Is there any problems to raw garlic every day to chew infected teeth at the age of 9
    Please advise me

  8. Interesting alternative for the use of garlic’s properties for fighting gum disease. We’ll investigate this further.

  9. Ben's mom age 51 says:

    I eat buttered hot air popcorn with garlic powder and parmesan cheese about once a week…my teeth feel smooth as if brushed afterwards…so i don’t brush them..I only brush 1 or 2 times a week and only floss when something is stuck in my teeth…my dentist has told me for the past several years that I have no cavities….what is going on? Too I drink coffee with tons of sugar and about a case of mountain dew each month…again…why no cavities?

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