Dental Superstar: Propolis Prevents Cavities, Reduces Plaque & Tooth Pain

by Angela Ysseldyk, Nutritionist and Beekeeper's Daughter

I've reported in the past that propolis is a promising anti-cavity agent. Now we have even more data to support this.

Several investigations carried out with propolis and its many compounds showed that it could reduce the bacteria Streptococcus (cavity causing bacteria) and interfere with their ability to adhere to your teeth. The ability for these bacteria to stick to the teeth are considered a vital step in the establishment of cavities.

Data from human studies have also demonstrated propolis' ability to reduce plaque.

Now researchers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico are using propolis to fight cavities.  These researchers also tested the effects of propolis on Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria which is implicated in certain forms of periodontal disease.

Propolis May Help Prevent Tooth Decay

In a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, more evidence that Propolis kills the bacteria that cause tooth decay was found.

Cavities are an infectious disease and there are different types of bacteria involved in the process. Synthetic antimicrobials are commonly used against this disease; however, many of these substances cause undesirable side effects like vomiting, diarrhea and tooth staining.

Three formulations of a propolis based toothpaste containing different concentrations of propolis (5%, 10% and 15%) were produced and applied to animal teeth.  

The Propolis-based toothpaste showed antimicrobial activity stronger than chlorhexidine based products against all oral bacteria that cause cavities.

Chlorhexidine is an antibacterial used as a disinfectant and in other applications like mouthwash designed to reduce dental plaque and cavity causing bacteria.  It is considered the gold standard of over the counter products for plaque and cavities.  It is also toxic in relatively low doses.    The fact that propolis outperformed it is remarkable. 

Propolis Kills Cavity Causing Bacteria

In another study, 24 children without cavities were administered propolis in concentrations ranging from 1 - 10%.   The researchers applied a propolis varnish to their teeth and then measured the activity of the cavity causing bacteria Steptococcus Mutans in their mouths. 

Could propolis kill it and prevent cavities?   It turns out a propolis concentration of 2.5% worked best at keeping this pesky bacteria at bay and the researchers pronounced propolis a potential cavity preventative.

Propolis Safe and Effective for Reducing Plaque

Not only does propolis appear to prevent cavities, but there is now evidence that it is effective for reducing plaque formation as well.   In fact, in a recent study it was found to be more effective than Colgate Total toothpaste at doing so.   

A double blind, randomized, crossover study design was conducted among thirty dental students. After oral prophylaxis (a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth),  the students were given a washout product for one week period.

They were then made to brush  for 1 minute with the Propolis toothpaste (the study was blind so they didn't know which toothpaste they were using, nor did the researchers).  The baseline plaque scores were then recorded.   They were then refrained from oral hygiene for 24 hours, and were recalled to be re-measured for plaque formation.  After a two week washout period, they then switched to the Colgate Total toothpaste. Again, they didn't know which toothpaste they were brushing with.  

Upon completion of the study, it was found that there was a significant difference in 24 hour plaque scores between the test products evaluated.  The Propolis toothpaste resulted in consistently and significantly lower MGMPI plaque scores than the Colgate Total toothpaste.  MGMPI is the Modified Gingival Margin Plaque Index, which is a validated and reliable clinical method for assessing the efficacy of products in reducing plaque build-up. 

The researchers concluded that Propolis is safe and effective in reducing plaque accumulation when compared to Colgate Total toothpaste.   

Propolis for Tooth Pain

A lot of the time, tooth pain issues don't end with dental treatment. Often, the treatments themselves can lead to dental pain, especially during healing. Luckily, those who keep propolis solutions on hand have a handy solution to help reduce dental pain and provide relief.

In a recent study, researchers compared two different propolis solutions with a dental bonding agent and a placebo that contained distilled water. The study involved 96 patients, all dealing with different levels of dental pain. The propolis solutions were tested at 10% and 30% strength.

In the study, the people who were given propolis had significantly less dental pain than those in the placebo group. At both 60 and 90 days after the pain-causing dental treatments, they reported a significant improvement in their pain levels.

Propolis is a natural densensitizing agent, which can help ease pain from dental treatments and other issues. Its antimicrobial properties can help fight infection that can cause inflammation and discomfort. It also stimulates the production of dentin, the calcified tissue that is one of the components that the body uses to create teeth. By using an ethanol-based propolis solution, you can help soothe tooth pain and keep your mouth healthier.

Propolis Can Reduce Tooth Sensitivity

Dentin hypersensitivity (DH) is a common oral health problem. Millions of people experience dental pain and sensitivity when consuming hot or cold drinks, when they are outside in winter weather or when they consume foods like citrus fruits or candy.

The sensitivity occurs when the dentin in your teeth becomes exposed. About three million people see their dentists every year looking for relief. If you keep propolis solutions on-hand, you may already have a remedy for hypersensitivity in your medicine cabinet.

In a recent in vitro study, researchers observed the effects of propolis on material from 20 naturally-extracted teeth. Discs that were extracted from each of the teeth were exposed to either a propolis varnish or a control material and observed under a microscope.

In the propolis-treated tooth material, there was a significant reduction in open tubules over the control group. This sealing effect could, in human applications, help provide a protective layer that could keep dentin material from being exposed to pain-causing stimuli.

While this particular research is still preliminary, the protective powers of propolis are well-established. This material, which is used to keep hives healthy, can help reduce inflammation and pain, and protect against infection.

How to Use Propolis for Better Oral Health

So what are you to do in order to gain these oral benefits?   Using a propolis based toothpaste is the easiest and most logical first step, but we've found it very difficult to reliably source a quality propolis toothpaste.  What I've found as a quick, inexpensive alternative is to add a drop or two of an alcohol free propolis tincture to your toothpaste right before brushing.

I have found significant benefits brushing my teeth with a propolis based toothpaste (non-fluoride) and simply adding one drop of an alcohol free tincture to my brush once a day.  I use and recommend the Dutchman's Gold brand.  I combine this with regular flossing and this has really helped my gums become less sensitive.   I also haven't had a cavity since I began this protocol, which is interesting considering I no longer use a fluoride based toothpaste and our water filtration system removes any fluoride in our water. 

I also feel there may be some value in taking propolis internally by capsule to support dental health.  While there are no studies that I am aware of at this time to support my theory, numerous clients and customers have reported success simply taking propolis by capsule.

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†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014

Journal of Nat Sci Biol Med. 2015 Jul-Dec;6(2):364-8

Recent Pat Biotechnol. 2019 Aug 26

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.

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