Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is prevalent all over the world. This is when an infection grows in the tissues that hold in your teeth. It can present as simply as red gums, but as it progresses bone loss can occur. This eventually leads to tooth loss. There are also strong links between gum disease and other systemic diseases such as cardiovascular. As essential oils grow increasingly popular, we are beginning to see them play a role in dental care. Recent studies highlight the role essential oils may be able to play in the dental clinic, including in antibacterial mouth rinses, wound healing, and anti-anxiety purposes. We’ve come up with a list of what we consider to be the best essential oils for periodontal disease, but first, we are going to take a closer look at what causes gum disease, and what the common symptoms are!
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Risk factors for periodontal disease fall into two different categories: modifiable, and non-modifiable.
Modifiable: Modifiable factors are things that are possible for a person to change. For example, smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for gum disease. Research shows us that a person who smokes is 3x more likely to suffer from periodontal disease than one who does not. Other modifiable factors include:
- Poor oral hygiene: not taking proper care of one’s teeth and gums
- Diabetes: It is especially important for people who suffer from diabetes to put a strong focus on oral hygiene and regular dental appointments. The two are very closely linked together, and if one disease is not under control the other will likely worsen as well
- Medications: Many common prescription medications have various side effects. Frequently, this includes dry mouth, which puts a person at risk for gum disease and cavities. Another possible side effect from medication is the enlargement of the gingival tissues, which results in them being harder to clean, and therefore more likely to build up plaque
- Stress: Stress can also lead to dry mouth, putting a person more at risk. Individuals who suffer from chronic stress and depression occasionally have higher levels of cortisol in their saliva, which causes periodontal treatments to be less effective
Non-modifiable: The two main non-modifiable risk factors (meaning there is nothing a person can do about them) are age and genetics. Many people have a family history of periodontal disease, which raises their risk.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
If you notice any of the following symptoms, it is best to get in to see a dentist and have a checkup:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Bleeding during/after brushing and flossing
- Loose or otherwise sensitive teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Gumline recession (when teeth begin to appear longer)
8 Best Essential Oils for Periodontal Disease
Peppermint essential oil is already a component in many different dental products for flavoring purposes. However, recent research indicates that it may offer further benefits in the field of dentistry. The menthol content of peppermint acts as a natural analgesic, cooling a local area and helping to numb and dull pain. In addition, studies show that other components of peppermint can act as antibacterial agents against some of the bad bacteria in the mouth.
Clove essential oil has been used in dentistry for hundreds of years. It contains an organic compound called eugenol. Eugenol works as a local anesthetic, which means it is capable of relieving toothache and pain. Other research tells us that it is also good for reducing swelling, infection, and helping minor wounds heal faster. Clove oil is one of the best essential oils for teeth and gums.
Certain constituents in cinnamon essential oil (cinnamaldehyde, for one), are capable of acting as powerful antibacterial agents. There are also other indications that cinnamon can be effective at preventing gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease.
Tea tree essential oil has been used for medicinal purposes for many years, particularly in its native Australia. There is one major component in tea tree oil that makes it such a successful adjunct treatment for oral health. This is terpinen-4-ol, which is an antimicrobial that is particularly effective against fungal bacteria and can also promote wound healing. In terms of dentistry, tea tree shows indications of being able to reduce the amount of bacteria present, including the bacteria that cause gum disease. This makes it one of the best essential oils for periodontal disease.
Using myrrh essential oil is very common in traditional medicine. You will often see it in use to treat pain, inflammation, and other minor ailments. In an oral health capacity, studies indicate myrrh is capable of antibacterial activity against some of the pathogens that form in saliva and gingival crevices.
Thyme essential oil is extracted from the thyme plant. Along with thyme oil's other benefits, it is also beneficial for maintaining overall oral health. The most potent and active component in the oil is thymol. This component is capable of killing bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Moreover, thyme essential oil also reduces the chances of other dental problems such as cavities.
While the amount of research looking at clary sage essential oil in terms of dental care is lacking, there is evidence indicating clary sage is both an effective antibacterial agent, as well as an antifungal. These properties may mean it has the potential to play a role in future oral health treatments that work to prevent periodontal disease or caries.
Eucalyptus essential oil has been in use as a medicinal since the times of ancient Egyptians. It offers analgesic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which contribute to its role in a dental setting. Further research looking into using essential oils for gum disease tells us that eucalyptus can effectively target the pathogens that cause periodontal disease.
The Best Essential Oils for Periodontal Disease: How To Use Them for Oral Hygiene Purposes
- Essential Oil Mouth Rinse: Add 5-10 drops of essential oil to a cup of water. Swish approximately 1tbsp at a time around your mouth, then spit it out, making sure not to ingest any
- Place on Toothbrush: Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to your toothbrush, and then apply paste and brush as normal. Make sure to spit out all excess saliva
- Oil Pulling: Oil pulling is a process aimed towards clearing the mouth of bacteria and improving oral health. Others claim that it can help combat bad breath, prevent caries (cavities), and reduce inflammation in the gums. For oil pulling, a few drops of essential oil are added to 1oz of carrier oil such as coconut oil. Swish around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes, taking care not to ingest. Spit out somewhere safe, and then rinse or brush your teeth after to prevent the accidental ingestion of essential oils.
- Topical: Some oils, such as clove, can help reduce pain or swelling when put on the gums. If you wish to do this, you have to dilute the oils first, as they are too potent to go directly onto the skin.
The Best Essential Oils for Periodontal Disease: Precautions
We want you to prioritize your safety while using essential oils. Here are some of the main things that you must keep in mind regarding the use of these oils.
- If applying essential oils to the gums, make sure to always dilute them first to prevent burning and other negative reactions
- Do not ever ingest any essential oils, and always make sure you rinse your mouth after use. Some oils, such as tea tree oil, are toxic if ingested
- Always see a dentist first before incorporating essential oils into your oral hygiene routine. If you do suffer from periodontal disease it is important for your dentist to track and chart the process, as well as recommend any necessary treatments
As more research emerges, essential oils are being put into use in many more different areas of health and wellness. Using oils such as clove oil in dentistry is nothing new, but the emergence of other essential oils with antibacterial properties indicates that more oils will likely have a role in future dental practices. Using oils is not intended to replace proper oral hygiene or dental care, and we strongly recommend seeing a dental professional before adding oils to your homecare routine. However, if you are looking to incorporate some natural products into your dental care, then we hope this list of the best essential oils for periodontal disease has given you a good place to start!