Common Solutions

Essential Oils (Are They Harmful to Oral Health?)


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.

When explaining the microbiome, Wikipedia discussed how our mouths provide entry to our body and play a crucial role in determining our systemic health. A symbiotic relationship needs to exist between the host (our mouths) and the bacteria present in them.

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-harmful-to-oral-healthEssential 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 essential oil

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 essential oil

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 essential oil

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 leaf essential oil

CloveClove 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 Leaf essential oil

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 essential oil

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 coconut oil to improve oral health

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, their product uses essential oils and whole-plant nutrients in combination with carbamide peroxide. This provides an antimicrobial product that is safe, effective and pH balancing that does not harm the protective bacteria already present in your 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.

Tri-ology restoring rinse

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.Bacteria in oral microbiome

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!


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  1. Anastazja

    This is a wonderfully, thorough article.  I appreciate your defining of some of the essential oils that my dentist recommends.  I have not understood until now why any of these would be important if teeth are cleaned regularly.  You have explained the use for dental health.  I did not realize the oral problems that these oils prevent.  I am going to look into the product, Tri-Ology which you recommend.  Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    1. Michelle


      Essential oils can and do have a place in an oral health care regimen. However, it is important to use them with caution and be aware of any potential side effects. Tri-ology restoring rinse can help take the guess work out of how to properly use these products. Thanks for your comment!


  2. Shanta Rahman

    Many thanks to you for sharing such an excellent article with us. I used tea tree oil for my oral health. I used this  for the treatment of dental diseases but I did not understand what harm I could experience if I ingested it. This essential oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and this oil kills bacteria that cause decay and inflammation. These essential oils should never be swallowed, which I learned by reading your article. Tri-ology is a safe and highly effective antimicrobial agent that is able to naturally balance the pH in the mouth. I hope to get the benefits of essential oils without disrupting the microbiome. Tri-ology restoring rinse is different from most mouthwashes. I will definitely purchase it and share my new experience with you soon. Also I would like to share this article on my social media as everyone needs to be aware of these oils.

    1. Michelle


      Many people believe essential oils are harmless because they are natural products. This simply isn’t true. Care and caution need to be observed when using them. Many essential oils can be poisonous if swallowed. In addition, allergic reactions are always possible too. It is very important to do a ‘skin patch’ test before using an essential oil on other parts of the body. To do this, place a drop or two on a small area of skin and observe any adverse reactions such as itching, redness or inflammation. If any reaction occurs, this essential oil should not be used. Good luck using Tri-ology. This product has a careful balance of effective essential oils that will not disrupt the oral microbiome.


  3. Hamish58

    Absolutely fascinating article!  It’s amazing in this world where there is a growing focus and even fashion to do things the natural way that we would probably not stop often to think that some natural things might actually be harmful to our health.  Even that is a little counterintuitive as some of the most deadly poisons on the planet of course come from natural sources!

    This is really well done, useful and informative.  Thanks for taking the time to research and post.


    1. Michelle


      I appreciate you commenting on the article ‘Essential Oils (Harmful to Oral Health?). As with anything, too much of a good thing can actually be bad. This applies to natural products the same as it does to chemically laden man-made products. I am glad you understand the importance of this information. Best wishes to you and your oral health!


  4. Shannon

    This was a great read. I have been prescribed some medicine that I may stop taking because one of the side effects is bleeding gums, and boy are my gums having issues. I am about due for my dentist appointment that I have been putting off for a while now so I can get a full work up done. 

    I’ve never had oral  issues until my mid 30s arrived and I’m realizing I have to stay on top of my checkups. This was interesting because the alternative mouthwash would be a better choice than the Listerine which I HATE! I switched to an aloe solution and it’s better but I need to invest in a Waterpik to really clean my teeth and gums.

    Can’t wait to read more of your work!


    1. Michelle


      Many medications have the side effect of bleeding gums. Another side effect of many medications is dry mouth. When our saliva is limited, it puts us at risk of other oral health problems such as cavities, bad breath and gum disease. I am glad you plan to see your dentist soon because your medication may be making you prone to these issues. The saliva helps to balance the pH in the mouth, cleanse and remineralize the enamel. You can read more about the problem of dry mouth in a related article: Best Dry Mouth Remedy-Your Frustration Solved. I definitely would encourage you to check into a Waterpik. You will get effective cleaning of your teeth and gums and also have the option to use essential oils in your water reservoir.

      Good luck!


  5. Andy Tafalla

    Clearly you know your stuff!  There is a lot of information and so much to talk about on your web site.  I have had a little experience with essential oils but there is much that I don’t know about them.  So I very much appreciated how you included information on some essential oils within the content of your post.  I’m glad I read this before trying essential oils any further for myself.  I probably would have used way too much at a time.  I didn’t realize how potent they can be. Thanks again for the information.  Content was well organized and easy to understand.


    1. Michelle


      Essential oils, in my opinion, are highly underrated. I believe that if there is a way to minimize our exposure to harmful chemicals, then we surely should. Being cautious when using essential oils, we can still achieve their excellent benefits for oral health. I appreciate your feedback and comments!


  6. Parveen

    Your guide on Essential oils is very useful for everyone. While reading, I have learned that the  product Tri-ology  has a carefully balanced amount of essential oils along with other natural ingredients which will not disrupt the oral microbiome. Micro foaming 4% carbamide peroxide is a safe and highly-effective antimicrobial agent that also naturally balances pH in the mouth. Thanks for sharing your awesome guide.

    1. Michelle


      Being careful when using essential oils is important. Respecting the natural oral microbiome in your mouth will do wonders for achieving and maintaining oral health. It is meant to protect us so we should not use products haphazardly that can destroy it. Researching the products you use is key! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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