You are trying to do the right thing. You want to use an oral health product to promote healthy teeth and gums. This may mean you are using products containing essential oils. I want to explain why essential oils may be harmful to oral health.
Many people want to steer clear of chemicals in their personal products. We all know that unhealthy chemicals can be absorbed by the body and cause harm. This includes oral products such as rinses, gels and toothpastes.
I understand why a person would want to use more natural ingredients such as essential oils, but there is much you need to know about these potent oils. They have antimicrobial properties as strong as prescription strength mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine.
While you may think this is a good thing, it is actually not. Read on and I will explain…
Essential Oils Can Disrupt Our Oral Microbiome…What You Must Know Before Using…
The powerful antibacterial essence of essential oils can indiscriminately kill both the good and the bad bacteria in our mouths. Despite what you may be thinking, it is actually a good thing to have certain bacteria in our mouths to protect us from disease and adverse oral conditions. Adverse oral health conditions can lead to other problematic conditions that will be discussed later on.
Certain essential oils can be used beneficially in dentistry but to use a mouthwash daily claiming to “kill 99.9% of bacteria” such as Listerine can actually work against your best intentions. Another very strong mouthwash is chlorhexidine. This is a rinse prescribed by dentists used to treat inflammation and reduce bacteria in the mouth.
Essential oils are compared to the effectiveness of chlorhexidine at reducing bacteria. Our mouths contain a delicate balance of bacteria called our oral microbiome. This balance needs to be protected and indiscriminate use of powerful essential oils and rinses such as Listerine and chlorhexidine requires caution.
According to Wikipedia: “This dynamic between host oral cavity and oral microbes plays a key role in health and disease as it provides entry into the body. A healthy equilibrium presents a symbiotic relationship where oral microbes limit growth and adherence of pathogens while the host provides an environment for them to flourish.”
It is beneficial to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in our mouths and too much of a good thing can be counter intuitive. Please refer to a meta-analysis study from the Journal of American Dental Association discussing potential benefits of essential oils. You need to be careful how you use essential oils for oral health. I will explain certain ways essential oils can be beneficial in dentistry…
Essential Oils Used In Dentistry
When using an essential oil, less is more! These substances are extremely powerful and should be treated with the utmost care. Remember, you do not want to disrupt the oral microbiome. With too much of a good thing, you will be destroying the protective bacteria in the oral cavity along with the destructive bacteria.
The use of essential oils has increased through recent years. Many people are looking for more natural and alternative solutions and their use in dentistry is no exception. They can safely and effectively be used when used with caution.
Essential oils are believed to be a more holistic approach for treating and preventing dental ailments. Some of these conditions may be dental decay, gum disease, infections and bad breath.
There are noted anti fungal, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of essential oils. That is why they are widely used in oral care products.
The most common essential oils used in dentistry today are tea tree, peppermint, oregano, clove, cinnamon and thyme. By carefully researching the products you use for your oral care, you can find safe and effective products containing small amounts of essential oils that may be beneficial.
If you do decide to use essential oils for your oral health, listen to the following video:
Tea tree oil- This essential oil is known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is best used in home care routines involving making your own toothpaste or mouthwash. This oil is thought to kill the bacteria that causes decay and inflammation of the gums. Tea tree oil should NEVER be ingested and your mouth should be rinsed thoroughly with water after using it internally as a paste or rinse.
Peppermint– The use of peppermint essential oil is also used in DIY mouthwashes and toothpastes. It is a powerful ingredient that kills bacteria that lead to gum disease and cavities. Peppermint essential oil has a cooling and numbing effect and leaves your mouth feeling fresh.
Oregano– This essential oil is used due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Oregano oil is known for its anti-fungal properties and its ability to reduce bacteria. Because oregano oil is known to boost the immune system, it is often used in combination with coconut oil in the oil pulling process.
Clove– Clove essential oil has been used in dentistry dating back hundreds of years ago for tooth pain and inflammation. It contains a chemical called eugenol and it is what gives dental offices their “dental office smell”. It has antibacterial and anesthetic properties. This oil should never be applied directly to the gums, however, it should be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil before being applied.
Cinnamon– By using cinnamon essential oil in the oral cavity, you will be targeting the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. It is used diluted by placing a few drops in a cup of water. By gargling with this solution, you can also help to relieve a sore throat. Research shows that cinnamon oil has the greatest antimicrobial effect against streptococcus mutans (bacteria responsible for tooth decay) and lactobacillus plantarum (bacteria responsible for gum disease).
Thyme– The thymol in thyme essential oil belongs to the mint family. It contains natural chemicals that help protect against infection and inflammation. Thyme essential oil is beneficial against oral pathogens and is an excellent antiseptic. It is most often used for this reason in addition to its minty fresh taste.
The results of a study published in the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) from the European Journal of Dentistry discuss its promising antimicrobial effects.
How Essential Oils Can Be Used With Caution
While essential oils can have a beneficial place in maintaining oral health, side effects are possible. Please keep in mind how powerful these oils can be. It is important to check with your dentist to make sure the essential oil is right for you before using it.
As mentioned earlier, essential oils used for oral health can be harmful if used incorrectly. If used by themselves in an undiluted state, they can harm not only your microbiome but your tissues as well.
It is best to do a “patch test” on your skin to check for any negative reactions before using it on other areas. This will show if there is any irritation or allergic reaction to a particular oil. To do this, dab a drop of the essential oil on a small patch of skin prior to using it multiple places. If there is any sign of redness, irritation or inflammation, it should not be used.
Using a carrier oil such as coconut oil will dilute the essential oil before being applied to prevent overexposure of it. A few drops of an essential oil can be mixed with coconut oil before being used orally.
A common practice called “oil pulling” can be done using coconut oil as well. This practice involves swishing with a small amount of coconut oil for 10-20 minutes at a time and then spitting it out. The coconut oil is thought to draw out bacteria and impurities from the oral cavity and is very beneficial.
You can use a few drops of an essential oil added to a full water reservoir of an oral irrigator. A Waterpik is an effective oral irrigator and is highly recommended by dental professionals to maintain oral health. By using a Waterpik, you can remove twice as much plaque and food debris from between your teeth than flossing can. Read why a Waterpik is better than flossing.
In addition to these ways to use essential oils orally, many people like to make their own rinse or toothpaste. Making a rinse is as simple as adding a few drops to a cup of water and swishing with it as you would any other mouth rinse. Be sure not to swallow as essential oils are not meant to be ingested due to toxicity properties.
A DIY toothpaste can be made using a combination of equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda. To this mixture, you can add a drop of your favorite essential oil. Brush as you would normally but again, be sure to spit out the excess versus swallowing it due to potential toxicity. According to dentists, using an electric toothbrush is more effective at cleaning your teeth than a manual toothbrush.
A Safer Way to Use Essential Oils Orally
Tri-ology restoring rinse is a great alternative for people who are looking for a holistic approach to their oral care. This product line has a carefully balanced amount of essential oils along with other natural ingredients which will not disrupt the oral microbiome.
According to Tri-ology: “Rinse uses powerful, whole-plant nutrients and essential oils to aid in the healing and protection of gums and teeth with no harmful side effects. Micro foaming 4% carbamide peroxide is a safe and highly-effective antimicrobial agent that also naturally balances pH in the mouth.”
By using this product, you can achieve the benefits of essential oils without disrupting the delicate microbiome. Tri-ology restoring rinse is different from most mouthwashes. Many mouthwashes contain a high amount of ingredients that are not beneficial to the oral cavity.
It is also certified organic and vegan and contains no GMOs, no artificial ingredients, no parabens, no dyes, no triclosan, no toxins, no gluten, no fluoride and no sulfates.
Tri-ology uses antioxidants, natural antimicrobials, organic nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties in its patented whole-plant technology. This provides continuous repair to the oral tissues and the best defense for our immune system for maintaining oral health.
The all natural formula signals our immune system to deliver cells that promote wound healing to diseased tissue. Most other mouthwashes destroy these wound-healing cells.
By supplementing the saliva with nutrients, the healing cycle takes place and the free radical activity of gum disease is neutralized which supports overall oral health.
The unique Tri-ology restoring rinse lists these ingredients on their packaging:
“TRI-OLOGY combines organic, gluten-free, whole-leaf wheat grass and organic, latex-free, inner-leaf aloe vera with organic sweet almond oil, xylitol from organic U.S. hardwoods, organic vegetable glycerin, organic peppermint oil, rosemary oil natural preservative, xanthan gum, and carbamide peroxide. The nutrients in these all-natural ingredients are instantly recognized and used by the body to restore and maintain a healthy mouth.”
This product is also great for people who suffer from dry mouth symptoms.
The Takeaway- Essential Oils (Harmful to Oral Health?)
The most important thing to grasp when trying to achieve maximum oral health is respecting the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth. By using too much of a good thing, you can eliminate the beneficial bacteria in your mouth that are meant to help you.
The mouth is host to millions and millions of microbes (bacteria) that make up your oral microbiome.
It is considered to be the gateway to the rest of the body because it is the beginning of the digestive system.
If there isn’t enough of the good bacteria, the bad bacteria can pass to the rest of the body causing many other health problems.
The most studied of these concerns to date include cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Parkinson’s Disease and heart disease.
You may also want to consider other means of protecting the good bacteria in your mouth. Oral probiotics can be a welcome addition to your oral health care routine to ensure the correct balance of your microbiome.
Please leave any comments below and I would be happy to help!
The information that I provide on my website is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Care and investigation should always be sought from an appropriate health care provider. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. I have created this site as a way to share information and experiences.