Honey, which is known to many for its natural sweetness has been used as a medicine dating back to the ancient society. The contemporary society has rediscovered the medicinal value of honey in treating skin ulcers, infectious woods, burns and oral health. Medical researchers have discovered that honey can prevent bacterial growth in patients suffering from dental plague and has the potential of reducing the amount of acid produced from the condition. Apitherapy, which is the medicinal application of bee products such as honey has been successfully applied in the field of medicine as a way of introducing natural products in treating human infections plague(Chapman & Felton, 2013).
The use of honey in treating wounds in the past decades gives the bee product the ability of having antibacterial property. The antibacterial property can be traced back to 1892, a recognition by Van Ketel. The property is attributed to osmotic and high sugar content of the honey and the property increase when diluted (Sterling& Best-Boss, 2013). Another finding reveals that honey also contain enzymes that produce hydrogen peroxide when dilute. In order to defend these findings, further research have been conducted in Manuka honey that come from New Zealand and is well associated with the phytochemical compounds that are effective for oral therapy(Cappelli & Mobley, 2008). The focus of this discussion is based on the effectiveness of honey in oral health, looking at the protective property of honey and the protective mechanisms. Further discussions concentrated on periodontal diseases, dental caries and the biological and epidemiology of the diseases.
Background, biology, and epidemiology of dental caries and periodontal diseases.
Periodontal disease and dental caries have for a long to me been taken as the crucial dental burden globally. Data collected by scientist internationally indicate that tooth decay has remained a remained a childhood disease and the occurrence of dental caries have increased significantly in adults. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis and periodontal complications have been experienced in most children and at an adolescent stage of development (Honey, 1999). The same signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are also observed among adults all over the globe. The effect of oral diseases is considered to be taking profound disparities in the sense that most people suffering from oral health issues come from the less affluent people, immigrants and ethically marginal population (Shai & Maibach, 2005).
In Australia, dental caries and periodontal disease are the most burdening oral diseases that account for about 7% of the health expenditure. To some extent, an oral disease such as oral cancer has resulted in deaths and disabilities in the country. A fact about dental caries is that the disease is multifactorial with a number hereditary, subsidising to the development of the disease (Chapman & Felton, 2013). Looking at the lifestyle factors, the development of dental caries is promoted by regular intake of fermentable carbohydrates, high carcinogenic microorganism, poor hygiene, and impaired function of salivary glands.
The formation of dental caries takes place in the tooth where the bacteria causing caries is able to ferment carbohydrates over time. Other contributing factors of the disease formation depend on the environmental factors that promote the development of carcinogenic biofilm (Sterling& Best-Boss, 2013). The bacterium that causes the dental caries is the mutans streptococci, which is a Streptococcusmutans. The bacterium is known for causing intense pain in the patient’sgums, and if not detected early, the patient is most likely to lose a tooth and be exposed to other gum infections. The decaying of the teeth is caused by a bacterium that is able to produce acid in the presence of fermentable carbohydrate (Acton, 2011). This occurrence also forms part of this discussion that will look at the incorporation of honey as natural remedy for the teeth diseases.
The consumption of acidic foods, with a PH of 5.5 or below is most likely to cause erosion or demineralisation in the teeth that will prove a perfect foundation for the bacteria. People who are exposed to the carcinogenic acids are more prone to getting the dental caries and periodontal disease. The beginning of the infection process occurs immediately on has finished consuming snacks that will enable the bacteria to start metabolising the sugars stuck between the teeth (Shai & Maibach, 2005).
Periodontal disease is the disorder of the tissues that encircle and support the teeth. The tissue disorders may result from inflammatory, neoplastic, metabolic, genetic or traumatic origin. The disease occurs when the periodontal tissues and immune inflammatory response are structurally destroyed hence responding to the chronic plague. The failure in response of the immune-inflammatory system will then reveal the first clinical sign of the disease (Cappelli & Mobley, 2008).
According to the WHO data on periodontal disorder, an estimate of 5-20% of the complication is the primary pathological cause of tooth loss among the adolescent and adults. In the developing countries, the spread of the disease has decreased tremendously with many people adopting the good oral hygiene that is recommended for the prevention (Kon & Rai, 2014). In America, the disease is mostly common to the children due to poor dieting and excessive consumption of candy and related products. It is not unusual to identify children with tooth decay in America because they account for about 6-8% of the populations.
Honey, Protective Properties, and Mechanism of Protective Action.
The medicinal value of honey can be traced back to the ancient times when the natural fluid was used in treating wounds (Sterling& Best-Boss, 2013). Honey was known to be harbouring inhibitory factors that prevented the entry of bacteria into the wound. In the recent years, the attempt to prevent and treat dental caries has based its research on the incorporation of natural ways (Chepulis, 2008). Therefore, honey provide an excellent solution for the research work since the substance has been used for a long time in treating infected wounds, burns, peptic ulcers and bacterial gastroenteritis. In Eastern Europe and Brazil have been always been practising the use of honey as a conventional medicine. The countries have always been using honey in several ways which include anti-viral, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic and anti-bacterial agent (Kon & Rai, 2014).
The medicinal value of honey is bases on the research finding that reveals that honey contains antibacterial properties. The research finding is based on the fact that was done for Manuka honey that had anticancer properties. Various experiments that have been conducted indicate that honey is naturally acidic with a PH of 4.2. With carbohydrates being the main composition of honey, there are also other important enzymes and amino acids (proline) that provide the medicinal value(Acton, 2011). Another protective property of honey is evident as an antibacterial property which was recognised in 1892 by a research Van Ketel. The antibacterial property is provided by the osmotic effect, acid PH and hydrogen peroxide components. Honey has high osmotic properties that enable is to extract water from the bacterial cells thus inhibiting microbial growth in the teeth. The antibacterial potential of honey exists in the hydrogen peroxide property that is produced by the enzymes found in honey(Cappelli & Mobley, 2008). The enzymes become more reactive when the honey is diluted hence develop an antiseptic reaction that will damage the bacteria but not the mouth tissues.
The protective action of honey is found in polyphenol, a constituent of honey that has a valuable effect oral health and periodontal disease. The valuable constituent has a direct effect on the S. mutans bacteria that is known to be causing dental caries. The interaction of polyphenols and bacteria membrane prevents the adherence of bacteria cells from causing tooth decay(Fejerskov & Kidd, 2008).
Different research and publications have been carried out to give a precise role of the nutritional and medicinal values of honey. An article by Al-Deny, 2013 tries to give an explanation on the use of honey in patients to prevent gingivitis and dental caries. The focus of the article is based on the effect of chewing honey and how it affects the bacteria that cause dental plaque (Honey, 1999). The study involved assessing the plaque PH and other sucrose compounds. The research compared the antibacterial property of honey, and the result revealed that bacteria causing dental caries is not able to reproduce when exposed to honey. In the various studies, it is quite clear that honey can be modified to increase the action of enzymes that will effectively reduce the bacterial growth in the teeth (Acton, 2011).
As much as mouthwash and other oral therapies have been put into use, the effect of these therapies may not be effective as compared to the natural therapies like honey. The inhibition of bacterial infection in the mouth is well managed by the natural enzymes. Various experiments have been conducted to put honey on test with a good example being carried in 1985 by El Bagoury and Fayed. The experiment involved putting honey in the socket after an operation just before closing the wound (Maffetone & Allen, 2010). From the experiment, it was realised that the patients experienced less pain and minimal incidence of post-surgical complications. Moreover, the patients that had honey treatment have less swelling compared to those with the usual treatment. The main issue in using honey in the treatment is its ability to dissolve and mixing faster with saliva hence the long therapeutic effect is not present (Chepulis, 2008).
Additional research work concerning the medicinal value of honey was conducted in the year 200 by the University of Waikato. The research involved using dressing materials covered with honey to seal oral ulcer wounds. The covering material was effective in preventing honey from dissolving faster in the saliva. The experiment is still under development, and the already conducted experiments have proven to be a success(Maffetone & Allen, 2010).
Honey is known for its natural sweetness with few individuals knowing the medicinal values. The contemporary medicines have always shown side effects depending on how the patient’s body react to the medicine (Fejerskov & Kidd, 2008). Most patients do not show side effects of using natural healings hence the medics should embrace the use of natural honey in treating dental caries and periodontal disorders. Children are most prone to oral health complications. Therefore, parents should ensure that the children are fed on a well-balanced diet with little or no candy that mostly cause tooth decay.
Acton, Q. A. (2011). Periodontal diseases: Advances in research and treatment. Atlanta: Scholarly Editions.
Cappelli, D. P., & Mobley, C. C. (2008). Prevention in clinical oral health care. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier.
Chapman, A., & Felton, S. (2013). Basic guide to oral health education and promotion. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
Chepulis, L. (2008). Healing honey: A natural remedy for better health and wellness. Boca Raton, Fla: Brown Walker Press.
Fejerskov, O., & Kidd, E. A. M. (2008). Dental caries: The disease and its clinical management. Oxford: Blackwell Munks guard.
Honey, M. K. (1999). Black workers remember An oral history of segregation, unionism, and the freedom struggle. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.
Kon, K., & Rai, M. (2014). Microbiology for surgical infections: Diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Burlington: Elsevier Science.
Maffetone, P., & Allen, M. (2010). The big book of endurance training and racing. New York: Skyhorse Pub.
Shai, A., & Maibach, H. I. (2005). Wound healing and ulcers of the skin: Diagnosis and therapy: the practical approach. Berlin: Springer.
Sterling, E. W., & Best-Boss, A. (2013). Your child’s teeth: A complete guide for parents.Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.