7 Best Essential Oils for Teeth and Gums

2 brown bottle pots of oil beside some green leaves on a table

As it gets harder and harder to afford a dentist (or find an NHS one if you’re British), the rise of essential oils in oral health is not all that surprising. Essential oils have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties known to help skin and hair, but can a natural remedy be good for oral health problems too? Now you know me, I won’t recommend anything without trying to find some science to back it up, and you’ll be glad to know there’s plenty. In this post we’re going to take a look at 7 top essential oils for healthy teeth and gums, why they work and the science behind them.

Historic dental care

Essential oils have a long history in dental care, going back as far as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Clove oil, for instance, has long been used as a numbing agent. In medieval times they also used hazel twigs as toothbrushes with salt and cloves for cleaning.

Imagine starting your day with salty fresh breath.

Also yes, it turns out they did have teeth. I was as surprised as you. Archaeologists have found that 20% of teeth examined in the Middle Ages had decay compared with 90% in the 20th Century.

So there’s that.

Modern medicine recognised the unique healing potential of aromatic essences at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

So, which essential oils are the best for dental care then?

A wooden toothbrush with black bristles lying on a white flannel

The best essential oils for teeth and gums

Well, the type of oil or essential oil blend you choose depends on your personal preference and oral health care need.

That said, several essential oils, like lavender, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, myrrh, and tea tree oil, have shown antimicrobial effects against common bacteria that can cause dental caries and periodontal disease.

Let’s see what else these 7 oils can do.

Lavender oil 

An over-head shot of dried lavender in a jar on a brown wooden table

Besides its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, Lavender essential oil is also anti-inflammatory particularly when applied topically. There are also signs that lavender oil might relieve dental pain through its potentially analgesic effects.

Lavender oil is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect teeth and gums from damage caused by free radicals. And of course, it’s known for its relaxing powers.

Diffusing lavender oil before invasive procedures has been shown to lower stress levels and improve mood. So a whiff of Lavender before you head to the dentist may help relax you too.

Cinnamon oil and cinnamon bark

Ok first off, Cinnamon oil and cinnamon bark are different oils from the same tree. Cinnamon bark essential oil has a stronger, more intense cinnamon scent. It also has a higher cinnamaldehyde content, which is a bioactive compound found in cinnamon. 

Research shows us that this compound has potential cardiovascular benefits, reduces cholesterol, reshapes the gut microbiome and promotes gut health.

Why is this good for your teeth you may ask? Well, it’s also anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial.

On the other hand, cinnamon leaf essential oil is milder and more like clove oil. It’s cheaper and will do the same job of eliminating bacterial growth and reducing inflammation with regular use.

Benefits of clove oil for dental health

Cloves scattered on a grey table

When it comes to dental health, this is your go-to oil. Clove oil is a powerful natural remedy. It’s analgesicantimicrobial, and antibacterial making it great at relieving tooth pain and addressing gum inflammation associated with gum disease. 

Clove oil contains a chemical called eugenol, a powerful antioxidant which is both an antibacterial and anaesthetic.

No wonder all those medieval types were chewing on cloves.

You can use clove oil by adding it to a carrier oil (like coconut or olive oil) and applying it to teeth and gums, or as an oil-pulling style mouth rinse (see below).

Alternatively, add a few drops to your toothpaste or mouthwash or just chew on a clove bud. You can usually find dried cloves in the spice section of your local supermarket.

There is plenty of scientific support behind the use of clove oil in dentistry. It has antiplaque, antigingivitic, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and it’s effective in relieving toothaches.

Not only that but clove oil may also inhibit the effects of tooth decalcification caused by acidic drinks. Regular brushing with essential oils like clove oil and peppermint oil can help fight tooth decay and promote healthy teeth and gums. 

Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus leaves in a glass vase against a white background

You’ll often find eucalyptus oil in toothpaste and mouthwashes but it’s not only for that eye-watering cool feeling. It also possesses antibacterial properties that can help fight off the growth of harmful bacteria. Eucalyptus oil can prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities and freshen your breath.

If you’re looking to use Eucalyptus oil at safely diluted levels to kill bacteria, try a mouthwash.

Listerine, which started life as a surgical antiseptic in 1865, still uses Eucalyptol and menthol to kill oral pathogens.

DoTerra’s On Guard Mouthwash also contains an essential oil blend that includes eucalyptus, cinnamon and clove among others. 

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is, of course, known for its fresh and minty aroma but it’s also used in countless home remedies. You’ll find it in most brands of toothpaste and mouthwash for its soothing and cooling effect. It also has antibacterial properties that help fight oral pathogens that cause bad breath, leaving your mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

I take peppermint oil in capsule form as well as it’s also a great digestive aid. It’s rich in menthol, a natural compound that can numb pain and reduce gum inflammation.

If you’re going to use essential oils for your teeth and gums, particularly peppermint, dilute with a carrier oil first and use a cotton bud or add a few drops to your toothpaste or mouthwash. 

Tea tree oil

Tea tree essential oil lying on a stone beside some leaves

Tea tree oil pretty much saved my skin as a teenager. I remember coming across it on holiday (The Cotwalds, not Australia) and thinking I’d discovered an amazing secret. Only to find it practically everywhere because it’s magical and everybody already knew about it.


Tea Tree oil is a bit famous for being a brilliant antibacterial. Also, it’s from Australia.

It comes from the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree in case you were wondering. 

Tea tree oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help in reducing gum inflammation and preventing oral health problems. It’s also antifungal and studies show it may be beneficial for chronic gingivitis and bad breath. It’s a strong antiseptic, so it also makes a good natural remedy for mouth ulcers.

As essential oils for teeth and gums go, it’s pretty powerful, so make sure to dilute it. You can use it as a rinse (but don’t swallow) or gargle with water to get the benefits.

Myrrh oil

Myrrh oil may be one of the lesser-known essential oils for teeth and gums but it’s actually been used for thousands of years for its healing properties.

One of the gifts of the Magi, myrrh oil is anti-inflammatory and can stimulate wound healing in injured oral tissue if used for less than 2 weeks. Any longer than that, and it can have the opposite effect. 

Myrrh oil is not a bad choice though, If you want to use essential oils for healthier teeth and gums. It’s known to be analgesic, antiviral, antimicrobial and a potent antioxidant that can help protect against free radical damage. It can also freshen your breath and keep your mouth feeling clean and revitalised.

Oil pulling with essential oils for teeth and gums

Coconut oil on a wooden spoon beside some coconuts

A couple of years ago oil pulling became the latest trend. Suddenly everyone who was anyone was swishing oil around their mouths for 20 minutes, twice a day, hoping for whiter teeth and healthier, cleaner gums.

Never one to shy away from a natural remedy trend, I had a go. You’ve got to respect a practice that’s been around for 3000-5000 years.

What did I learn?

It’s surprisingly hard to keep your mouth shut for 20 minutes.

Still, It turns out that Ayurvedic medicine is not trolling us, there is actual scientific evidence to suggest that oil pulling with added essential oils may have benefits for teeth and gums.

Using coconut oil (also antibacterial) with a drop or two of essential oil, simply swish a tablespoon around your mouth for 15 or 20 minutes and then spit it out. This has all sorts of benefits. I certainly noticed gradual whitening and that ‘just been to the dentist’ clean feeling.

That’s because oil pulling helps to remove harmful bacteria, reduce plaque, and improve gum health. Overall, more research is needed to fully establish the benefits, but it’ll certainly freshen breath and promote a healthier oral cavity.

As long as you can stand an oily 20 minutes of silence.

Side effects and safety precautions

Hand holding an essential oil dropper above an amber bottle

Carrier oils

Use a carrier oil when using essential oils for your teeth and gums. Essential oils are potent and can irritate if not diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil.

It’s not just about allergic reactions though, It also helps the essential oils to absorb properly so you can get the best out of them.  Carrier oils literally carry essential oils into the skin.

The absorption rates vary, with some being slower than others, but carrier oils come with their own skincare benefits on top. Coconut oil, for instance, has its own antibacterial properties and ability to combat oral pathogens.

Avoiding internal use

While essential oils for oral use can work wonders if used correctly, ingesting them directly is a big no-no. Clove oil, peppermint oil, and others may have antibacterial properties, but swallowing them can lead to serious health issues. Stick to external applications or oral preparations and as always, stay safe.


So, essential oils can help maintain healthy teeth and gums. This isn’t to say that rubbing a bit of peppermint or clove oil on your teeth will magically cure all your issues. You should definitely not give up going to the dentist.

But essential oils can offer a natural way to help treat various oral health problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and tooth pain. They can also protect your teeth and gums from harmful bacteria, fungi, and free radicals in your mouth.

Those radicals get everywhere.

Consult your dentist, use them safely and responsibly and essential oils can be hugely beneficial for your teeth and gums.

Aren’t plants amazing? Let me know how the oil pulling goes.

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