Ancient remedies made out of all-natural ingredients have been around for thousands of years. Different parts of different plants, their extracts, and oil were used to cure diseases and relieve pain and other symptoms. The mouth and teeth are no exception since the existence of toothache; human beings have been trying to relive the situation using the remedies available to them, and up until the recent times, mostly getting rid of the offending tooth i.e. extracting the tooth, was the treatment of choice. Of course, when there is an extracted tooth, there is an open wound in the mouth, and open wounds need a wound dressing to relive and protect them.
Traditionally, many products have been available as a wound dressing that has two main characteristics: help to form and maintaining the blood clot (which later on also serves as the foundation for new tissue formation for healing) and kill/reduce microbes and bacteria to help prevent infection. For example, Tranexamic acid which is a synthetic analog of the amino acid (building block of proteins) Lysine, is used to treat or prevent excessive blood loss during surgery and in various medical conditions or disorders (helping with clot formation). It works by its antifibrinolytic (anti-clot-busting) activity that competitively inhibits the activation of plasminogen to plasmin (the bodies’ major clot buster).
Benzoic acid is another example that occurs naturally in many plants and it serves as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of many secondary metabolites. Salts of benzoic acid are used as food preservatives due to its anti-microbial effects especially as an antifungal. The derivative used in medicine is called para-hydroxybenzoic acid, a cocktail factoid tp recite at the parties!
The most common complications after dental/oral surgeries happen due to infection and dislodgement of the blood clot, which forms the foundation for all healing. The general consensus in the scientific literature is that activators in plasma of the blood clot or in the tissue (extrinsic factors) are released during inflammation by activation of the plasminogen in the blood. Plasminogen, which is in the fibrin network of the clot (that is a scaffold that holds the clot together) as it is formed, is converted to plasmin (a potent clot buster that destroys the fibrin scaffold of the clot), hence, breaking up the clot. Other clot-busting factors/activators (such as urokinase) are mediated by other agents like bacteria. Indirect activators include substances such as streptokinase and staphylokinase, which are produced by two of the most infamous species of bacteria, Streps and Staphs. This phenomenon is believed to be the underlying cause of Dry Socket, a painful complication that can develop after surgical procedures inside the mouth. It has also been noted that the increase in kinin (a biologic marker in the body) as the result of this phenomenon sensitizes the nerves as well resulting in increased pain sensation.
There are many hydrogels available for wound dressing; however, toxicity associated with some of their ingredients and/or preservatives may limit their use in the oral cavity. In our practice, we use a dressing called SOCKIT!® which is of a new class of oral hydrogels, made entirely of food plant ingredients, and it does not promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria implicated in oral diseases.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved SOCKIT!® to be marketed for the management of all oral wounds and the associated pain. They have determined that the formulation is safe to swallow and can be used for all oral wounds and lesions without contraindications of any kind (age, diagnosis, pharmaceutical or dietary supplement regimen, radiotherapy, or any other). No dosage limitations have been established by FDA.
This hydrogel contains a specific family of polysaccharides (sugars) called beta-linked acetylated mannans and xylitol, and essential oils (clove, thyme and cinnamon). The soothing effects of the product have been attributed to the acetylated mannans, the active ingredient in Aloe Vera, which, along with xylitol, have demonstrated inhibitory effects on pathogens (disease-causing bacteria). A small amount of essential oils in the product are claimed to create synergistic antimicrobial effects against bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Here is how it works: The proposed antimicrobial effects are attributed to polysaccharide ingredients (the special sugars pointed out earlier) in the device which controls bacterial growth by binding to bacterial mannose-binding lectins (MBLs). This action will flag the bacteria for recognition by the immune cells and ultimately its destruction. It is as if these polysaccharides were target sign attaching themselves to the bad guys (disease-causing bacteria) and then calling 911 for our body police department (our immune system) to arrive and put them away. These ingredients in the gel also sequester free calcium ions (Ca2+) removing them from the surrounding environment. This is important as many bacteria rely on calcium to grow and replicate and without it their rein comes to an end.
With new scientific discoveries, we don’t have to move away from the remedies that worked for our great grandparents. New medicine and science can be complementary to traditional remedies used in the past and explain the way they work. It has been my observation as the time passes and science advances, more and more we are able to recognize the wisdom of our ancestors who treated illnesses and conditions using herbs, plants, and natural ingredients. Oral surgeries and wound dressing date thousands of years back, and at Happy Smiles Dental office in the Urbana or Clarksburg area of Maryland, we gladly provide that bridge between principals of most recent and advanced science with the pillars of holistic medicine in dentistry.
At Happy Smiles Dental, located conveniently in Clarksburg/Urbana in Maryland, we provide care to all patients, near or far, and while we take care of their dental/oral surgery needs, we continuously strive to provide them with the latest and safest and most comfortable treatments and medications.