Essential oils are definitely trending right now. Your neighbors are selling them and your friends are touting their miracle abilities. There’s a lot of buzz about living an oily life but do these oils really do what they claim? And can they benefit your oral health?
These oils have been used for health care treatments for thousands of years. Different oils have different levels of success for different ailments. It’s important to remember that while these all-natural remedies have been used with varying levels of success, we created modern medicine to take these treatments to the next level.
So, how do we sift through what is useful to add to your daily regimen and what isn’t? As with most medicine, the answer lies in peer reviewed literature. I know most of you aren’t going to comb through thousands of papers to read exactly which oils will benefit your oral health so…allow me to give you a quick overview!
Some of the most common oils that can aid in good overall oral health are are clove oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil, orange oil, and cinnamon oil for their for antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Several of these oils, along with other all-natural liniments like frankincense have shown to have oral health benefits. Clove oil, for example, has been used to heal toothaches for as far back as records go and is an important ingredient in certain materials we still use. Orange oil is great for reducing adhesion of bacteria- just as it helps remove sticky residue off of furniture.
Just how effective are these oils, though? At this time, there is only evidence that these oils can reduce bacterial load for up to an hour. At that point, they have been rinsed away by your saliva and aren’t continuing to be effective throughout the remainder of the day.
We have begun to notice a trend in our patients increasingly wanting recommendations for more natural oral health products to try. There are a few that we can confidently recommend to add into your daily health regimen. Our office carries an all-natural mouthwash from a company called Essential Smiles. This product is made with several of the aforementioned oils at therapeutic grades (such as Peppermint oil, Clove Bud oil, Lavender oil, Cinnamon oil) but the thing we love about this product the most is a therapeutic level of xylitol (see previous blog on xylitol and its amazing benefits) AND it is alcohol free. Ask us to try a swish at your next appointment – the peppermint oil provides a refreshing flavor and leaves a lovely clean feeling. The other product I’ve come to love is Thieves toothpaste there are a few different “flavors” but we prefer the paste with “peppermint and spearmint” essential oils marketed by Young Living. I had doubts about this product but I have to say I have actually seen good results from its use. As a hygienist, my biggest qualm with this toothpaste is that it is fluoride free which I still consider to be necessary for patients we assess to be high cavity risk. Please feel free to ask your hygienist at your next appointment about what products might be specifically good for you.
The bottom line is if you want to add some oils to your routine to help your oral health we support you! Just remember that it will never replace the need for brushing, flossing and regular cleanings!