When it comes to oral hygiene, many families in the United States rely on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), particularly herbal remedies. But how widespread are these practices? Researchers interviewed 318 unique ethnic Chinese parental units in Houston and Boston with children under the age of 12 years to find out.
“The study focused on the use of Chinese medicine to treat 5 specific oral conditions: halitosis, gingivitis/periodontitis, aphthous ulcers, herpes labialis, and tooth pain/sensitivity,” said Ryan Quock, DDS, of the department of restorative dentistry and prosthodontics at the University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston.
According to the researchers, 45.6% of the parents and 19.1% of the children used TCM to treat these conditions, most commonly for aphthous ulcers (64.2%). The most common agents for treatment included watermelon frost (37.4%), niuhuang jiedu pian (15.5%), and honey/propolis (9.9%).
Duration of residency in the United States significantly affected parental TCM usage, while parental TCM usage, age group, and birth location all related to usage by children. Parental TCM usage increased the likelihood of the children using TCM.
However, the effectiveness of these treatments was not determined, as data collection occurred via questionnaire with results self-reported by respondents. While the subjects reported their effectiveness ranging from 92% to 100%, Quock noted that this should be interpreted carefully the study’s investigators did not clinically determine the effectiveness of these treatments.
The study, “Utilization of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Selected Oral Conditions in Two Pediatric Populations,” was published by Pediatric Dentistry.