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Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources,

Vol. 4(4), December 2013, pp. 419-424

Ethnomedicinal plants used for dental care in Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj,

Angul and Balangir districts of Odisha, India
Harish Singh*, G Krishna and P K Baske
Central Botanical Laboratory, Botanical Survey of India, Howrah-711 103, Kolkata, India

Received 1 August 2012; Accepted 19 December 2012

The paper deals with 31 plant species belonging to 29 genera and 20 families comprising 40 ethnomedicinal uses
for dental care (tooth ache, tooth decay, pyorrhea, foul smell and as tooth brush) by the different tribal and rural people
in Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Angul and Balangir districts of Odisha. These uses were compared and cross-checked with
the published ethnomedicinal data from Odisha and other states of the country and found that 12 uses of the referred plants
had not been reported earlier. These plant species are arranged alphabetically with their botanical names, family and
local name(s), followed by the method of uses for dental care along with field collection number(s) and uses cited by earlier

Keywords: Ethnomedicinal plants, Dental care, Toothbrush, Odisha.

IPC code; Int. cl. (2011.01)−A61K 36/00.

Introduction the most common cause of gingivitis, which is the

During the course of ethnobotanical survey of first stage of pyorrhea. The inflammation of the gum
Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Angul and Balangir districts with foul smell is the main symptom of the pyorrhea.
of Odisha, a total number of 374 ethnomedicinal Generally, the fresh tender sticks about 12-15 cm
plants were collected for the treatment of various long and 0.5-1.0 cm in diam. are either collected
diseases, disorders and ailments. Of these, 31 plant directly from the plants or purchased from local
species were found to be used for dental care vendors by the people of these districts. It is locally
like tooth ache, tooth decay, pyorrhea, foul smell known as Datun or Dantkali or Karkat or Kathi. The
and as tooth brush to clean the teeth by the tribal and stick is crushed at one end by the molar teeth and
local people. Dental caries, tooth decay and pyorrhea made in to a brush. Flexible fibers of the crushed end
are the common dental problems of the mouth of the stick are used for cleaning the teeth surface and
observed in the area. Dental caries is a pathological teeth crevices. Unfortunately, these practices are fast
condition of the teeth resulting in decalcification of vanishing and now exist only among the old people in
the dentine or enamel and disintegration of the the rural and interior areas. Therefore, the objective of
remaining organic material, often leading to loss of the present investigation is to collect, identify and to
the teeth. Tooth decay is caused by intra oral factors, document such information from rural and tribal areas
such as dental plaque of food and bacteria sticking of the districts before their extinction. Subsequently,
to teeth, anatomy and position of teeth, dental to find out new or less known uses for dental care
appliances and restoration and lack of salivary flow by comparing the collected uses with already
and also by extra oral factors, such as high sugar published literature. In recent past, a good number of
intake, nutritional deficiency, soft foods and bottle research papers on various aspects of ethnobotany
feeding, etc. Accumulation of calculus (tartar) the of Odisha including Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Angul
scaly yellowish or brownish hard chalk like and Balangir districts have been published by
substances that forms at the gums around the teeth is different workers1-29. However only a single paper
has been published from the state on nine plants
—————— which were mentioned in folksongs for dental care30.
*Correspondent author:
A few papers have been published on plants used as
Phone: 033 26685771, 09830217884 toothbrush and for dental disorders from different

parts of Andhra Pradesh (comprising 27 plants), latex (2 in each), seed and whole plant (1 in each) for
Gujarat (29 plants), Bihar (30 plants) and Madhya dental care in the studied area. As far as method of
Pradesh (17 plants) of the country31-34. preparation and mode of uses is concerned, 14 used as
tooth brush, 7 as decoction, 6 as fresh, 5 as powder,
Materials and Methods 3 as paste, 2 as smoke, 1 as tablet, 1 as extract, and
The ethnobotanical survey was carried out in 165 1 as ash for curing the disorder. Although, some plant
villages and forest areas of Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, species reported here for dental care are known
Angul and Balangir districts amongst the Ahir, from different parts of the country including Odisha,
Bathudi, Binjhal, Bhumij, Bhunya, Dal, Gauda, Gond, but the scrutiny of the relevant literature reveals
Ho, Juang, Kharia, Khond, Kisan, Kolha (Kol), Kond, that ethnomedicinal uses of 12 plants are not recorded
Lodha, Lohar, Matiya, Mirdha, Misan, Munda, Oraon, earlier. It is also analysed that out of 40 ethnomedicinal
PaudiBhuinya, Puran, Rautia, Sabar (Sahara), Santhal data for dental care, 17 were collected from different
tribe and non-tribal people during the years from localities of the Sundargarh district, 15 from the
2006 to 2011. Frequent field trips were made to Mayurbhanj, 4 from the Angul and 4 from Balangir
record the medicinal uses of wild plant species for district. The plant brush seems more safe and hygienic
various diseases or ailments, including dental as used fresh one in every occasion. Concurrently,
disorders through personnel interview with the tribal other oral and stomach diseases might be cured as
and non-tribal people and further cross-checked some of plant extracts goes into their internal system.
with experienced herbalists (Kaviraj). About The present ethnomedicinal investigation also
14 herbalists were consulted and taken to the field revealed that the tribal people of Odisha have great
for collecting voucher specimens and information faith in their traditional system of medicine and still
about dental care medicinal uses of plants, their depend upon natural plant resources to cure their
local names, parts used and methods of preparation various ailments. Simultaneously, it is observed that
with nature of treatment. The voucher specimens of new generation is almost ignorant or least interested
the plants collected were identified with the help of in ancient traditional method of healing. Therefore,
keys and botanical description described in regional it is felt that documentation of plant related
floras35-38. After matching and verification with the indigenous knowledge throughout tribal area needs
authentic specimens housed in Central National to be completed along with creation of awareness
Herbarium (CAL), these voucher specimens have among the youngsters, so that rapid erosion of the
been deposited in the Ethnobotanical Herbarium valuable knowledge about plant resources can be
of Central Botanical Laboratory (CBL) Howrah. The checked to a certain extent. The data collected on
latest botanical nomenclature has been checked with dental protective plants needs to be systematically
world renowned and widely accepted website screened for verification of tribal claims and
These plant species have been arranged alphabetically
according to their botanical names, family and local
name(s), followed by the method of preparation and
mode of uses along with voucher specimen number
(s) in parenthesis and uses cited by earlier workers
(Table 1). These collected uses were compared and
cross-checked with the published ethnomedicinal data
from Odisha and other states of the country and the
unreported or less known uses of the enlisted plants
have been indicated with asterisk (*) mark30-34.

Results and Discussion

It is revealed that 31 plant species with 40
ethnomedicinal data were collected from the area
for dental care during the study. Of these, stem twigs
(Plate 1) (14) are mostly used, followed by stem bark Plate 1—Tender stems of Shorea robusta Gaertn. are being sold
(7), flowers (4), roots, saps, fruits (3 in each), leaves, in market for toothbrush at Udala (Mayurbhanj)

Table 1—List of the plant species and their uses for dental disorders in Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Angul and Balangir districts of
Odisha, India (Contd.)

Botanical Name Family Local Name(s) Uses & voucher number(s) Uses cited by earlier workers

Acacia nilotica (L.) Mimosaceae Bamur Gach Tender stem is used as toothbrush Stem used as tooth brush32, 33, 34.
Delile (Odiya) to clean the teeth (CBL-12447).
Achyranthes aspera L. Amaranthaceae Apmara (Odiya) Root decoction is given to gargle Root portion is used for
for 3 consecutive days to eradicate cleaning the teeth30. Stem and
the pathogens and to treat toothache root used as tooth brush32- 34.
Annona squamosa L. Annonaceae Atto (Odiya), *Green leaves are boiled and the
Mandargam decoction is given to gargle for
(Santhali), Sharifa 1 week in the treatment of toothache
(Hindi), Atta (CBL-11800).
(Bengali), Madal
Azadirachta indica A. Meliaceae Neem (Odiya), Small slender twigs are used as Stem used as tooth brush32-34.
Juss. Limb (Santhali) toothbrush (Dantkati) to clean and
to treat the infected teeth (CBL-
11815, 34107).
Buchanania Anacardiaceae Char, Chinyar *Soft twigs are used as toothbrush
cochinchinensis (Odiya) to clean the teeth (CBL-12357,
(Lour.) M.R. Almeida 12402).
Calotropis procera Asclepiadaceae Araka, Atang, Arak *Latex (one drop) is applied on a Latex used in toothache34.
(Ait.) Dryand. gachh (Odiya) piece of cotton and put around the
infected teeth for removing purpose
Flemingia chappar Fabaceae Ranikathi, Ullo *Tender stem is used as toothbrush
Benth. (Odiya) to clean the teeth (CBL-12358,
Jatropha curcas L. Euphorbiaceae Bindi, Jada, Tender twigs are used as Root decoction to rinse the
Bhendra (Santhali), toothbrush and for the treatment oral cavity in toothache31 and
Bandari, Bhenda, of toothache and pyorrhea. The pyorrhea33.
Jada (Odiya) sap of the stem is applied on
gums and teeth for fixing tightly.
A sticky juice is obtained w
hen petiole detached from the
stem and is applied on a soft
cloth and used to clean the
gums and tongue of infants
Jatropha gossypiifolia L. Euphorbiaceae Jada, Rang Jada Latex is applied on a piece of cloths Stem used as tooth stick in
(Odiya) and cleans the tongue of infants pyorrhea33. Latex is used in
(CBL-19756). toothache34.
Madhuca longifolia var. Sapotaceae Mahulo, Mahul, Tender twigs are used as Stem bark chewed to cure
latifolia (Roxb.) A. Tolgachh (Odiya) toothbrush for 15 days for strong crossed teeth and to relive
Chev. and reset loose teeth (CBL-12342, severe toothache31. Stem used
30040). Stem bark is powdered and as tooth brush32 and for loose
applied during toothache (CBL- teeth33.
Miliusa velutina (Dunal) Annonaceae Um, Kahali *Slender twigs are used as
Hook. f. & Thom. Odiya toothbrush and used for cleaning the
teeth (CBL-30143).

Table 1—List of the plant species and their uses for dental disorders in Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Angul and Balangir districts of
Odisha, India (Contd.)
Botanical Name Family Local Name(s) Uses & voucher number(s) Uses cited by earlier workers
Mimusops elengi L. Sapotaceae Baud gachh (Kolho),
Stem bark is chewed to re-fix the Juice of stem bark and
loosing teeth. Bark is powdered
Bakul, Maul shree, fruit given in dental caries31.
Bahudophulo, with alums (Fitkari) and cleans Bark chewed and stem used
Bawul, Bauda the teeth for brightness and to treat as tooth stick in cavity and
(Odiya) the pyorrhea. Bark powder is decaying33.
slightly warmed and applied
externally on decaying teeth to
reduce pain. Subsequently, gargle
should be done for brightness of
the teeth (CBL-19631). Tender
twigs (Kathi) are used as tooth
stick to cleaning and tightening
the teeth. All parts (Panchang) is
boiled and after staining it is used
for gargle in toothache and
pyorrhea. (CBL-34258). Leaves are
dried, powdered and used for cleaning
and strong teeth (CBL-30001).
Phyllanthus reticulatus Euphorbiaceae Sikat, Jhijon (Odiya), Tender twigs are used as Stem squeezed on to teeth to
Poir. Jhinjhit (Santhali) toothbrush (Datun) to clean the cure infected gums and severe
teeth (CBL-12456, 19797). tooth pains31.
Plumeria alba L. Apocynaceae Gulanchi (Odiya) *Paste of the bark is filled in the
cavity of infected teeth and to
reduce the pain (CBL-12413).
Pterocarpus marsupium Fabaceae Piya Sal (Odiya) A few pores are made on the stem
Roxb. of tree and a sap is exudes from
the pore. The sap is collected and
applied on gums in pyorrhea
Sapindus trifoliatus L. Sapindaceae Ritha (Odiya) Seed powder is used to clean teeth
syn. S. emarginata Vahl and useful in the pyorrhea (CBL-
Senna sulfurea (Collad.) Caesalpinaceae Chakunda (Odiya) Soft stems are used as toothbrush
H. S. Irwin & Barneby to clean and to make teeth more
white (CBL-12429).
Shorea robusta Gaertn. Dipterocarpaceae Sarjam (Santhali, Tender and soft stem twigs A twig is highly suitable
(Plate 1) Kolho), Sad, Rengal, are used as toothbrush (Karkat) as a tooth brush30. Resin
Sal, Sargi (Odiya) for treating pyorrhea and powder used as tooth powder in
toothache. It is generally sold in toothache33.
the market @ Rs. 5 to 10 for about
20 sticks (CBL-11701, 30141).
Sida acuta Burm.f. Malvaceae Bajra-muli (Odiya), *Stem twigs are collected and
Hepidpeuin (Santhali) used as toothbrush (CBL-12376,
Smilax ovalifolia Roxb. Smilacaceae Ram Datun (Odiya) The stem is used as toothbrush Stem is used for cleaning the
ex D. Don in pyorrhea and toothache (CBL- teeth30.
Solanum virginianum L. Solanaceae Akranti, Kante, The fruit is burnt and the ash The smoke obtained by
Nipania (Odiya), is applied as tooth powder in burning of dried seeds is
Rangani (Santhali) pyorrhea and toothache (CBL- given through ear tract to cure
12319). The fruits and blue flower toothache34.
are brunt and the smoke is inhaled
through a pipe in the treatment of
dental caries (CBL-12368).

Table 1—List of the plant species and their uses for dental disorders in Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Angul and Balangir districts of
Odisha, India
Botanical Name Family Local Name(s) Uses & voucher number(s) Uses cited by earlier workers
Solanum viarum Dunal Solanaceae Bhej Bauguno, Denga *Dried seeds are wrapped in a piece
Bheji (Odiya) of paper and smoked as cigarettes to
treat the tooth caries and remove
dental pathogens (CBL-34161,
Spilanthes calva DC. Asteraceae Akarkara, Yellow flowers are kept on the Whole plant decoction used
Chhotoakarkara, infected teeth for 5 minutes only to as dental reinsure in
Akararabochh (Odiya reduce pain (CBL-19621, 19647, toothache33.
& Santhali) 19657).
Symplocos racemosa Symplocaceae Lodh (Odiya) *Stem bark is boiled and the Stem bark chewed twice a
Roxb. decoction is used to gargle in the day for 10 days leads to hard
treatment of gum and teeth infection adherent teeth; decoction
(CBL-34233). used as gargle31.
Tephrosia purpurea (L.) Fabaceae Sarpankha (Odiya) *A piece of the root is tied on ear
Pers. and believed that the pathogens will
be removed from the infected teeth
Terminalia alata Heyne Combretaceae Asana (Odiya) Stem bark or fruits are dried, Stem used as tooth stick in
ex Roth. powdered and used as tooth powder toothache and pyorrhea33.
in toothache (CBL-19785).
Tragia involucrata L. Euphorbiaceae Bichha (Odiya), *Roots are pasted without water and
Sengal sing, Itka made pills. The pills are inserted
(Santhali) into decayed teeth for refilling and
treating the pain (CBL-11714).
Trewia nudiflora L. Euphorbiaceae Gular (Odiya) *Bark paste is used to refill the
infected dental caries (CBL-12457).
Vitex negundo L. Verbenaceae Baigunia, Chinwar, Stem branches are used as Stem used as tooth brush32.
Baigna, (Odiya), toothbrush to make strong teeth and
Sinduri (Santhali) to prevent foul smell from mouth
(CBL-12369, 12321). Leaves are
pasted and applied gently for the
treatment of tooth and gum diseases
(CBL- 11728).
Wrightia tinctoria R. Br. Apocynaceae Sweta or Pitta Stem bark is chewed in the treatment
Kurwan (Odiya) of tooth carries (CBL-30064).
Ziziphus rugosa Lam. Rhamnaceae Chaukadi (Odiya) Bark decoction is gargled in toothache
and gum infection (CBL-12394).

for antimicrobial properties. Some of them like assistance during the field survey. We also wish
Acacia nilotica (L.) Delile, Achyranthes aspera L., to acknowledge all forest officials of various Forest
Azadirachta indica A. Juss., Mimusops elengi L. and Divisions of these districts for extending their
Vitex negundo L. are screened out and ascertained co-operation during the field survey. We express
their antimicrobial activities against dental pathogens our deep sense of gratitude to those tribal informants
by different workers40-41. of the districts, who freely shared the information
during the field survey, without their co-operation this
Acknowledgements work would not have been possible.
The authors are thankful to the Director, Botanical
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