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To maintain a good oral health, experts recommended brushing teeth twice a day, which is easiest done in the morning and evening, making it an easy routine to implement. Visiting a dentist for regular checkups is also a good idea. We might think that there is nothing wrong with our teeth and gums, but getting them checked can uncover any underlying issues before they become bigger (and more expensive) problems.
Although it’s possible to replace missing teeth with dental implants, we can delay this by implementing good oral health practices. It’s also possible to incorporate herbs into our oral care routine to provide a natural boost to our dental health.
Herbs have been trusted for centuries for their medicinal properties, and their role in oral health is no exception. From combating gingivitis to soothing irritated gums, various herbs offer natural alternatives to traditional oral care.
In this article we’ll explore some key herbs, their active ingredients, safety considerations, and instructions on how to incorporate them into our oral health routine.
Caraway (Carum carvi)
Active Ingredients: 3–7% volatile oil, mainly carvone and limonene.
Use: As a mouthwash, helps with gingivitis (earliest stage of gum disease when plaque and tartar build up on your teeth and cause red, swollen, bleeding gums) and periodontal disease (gum disease). Antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
Safety: Generally safe; avoid using pure volatile oil on children under 2 years.
Preparation & Use: Steep 1 teaspoon of crushed caraway seeds in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and cool. Gargle with the cooled tea twice a day.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Active Ingredients: 1–2% volatile oils, including apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin.
Use: Anti-inflammatory, effective for gingivitis and periodontal disease when used as a mouthwash.
Safety: Allergic reactions reported; avoid if allergic to Asteraceae (daisy, ragweed, aster, and chrysanthemums) family plants.
Preparation & Use: Steep 1 tablespoon of dried chamomile flowers in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. Rinse your mouth with the cooled infusion after brushing.
Echinacea, Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea angustifolia)
Active Ingredients: Alkylamides/polyacetylenes, caffeic acid derivatives, polysaccharides.
Use: Supports immune system; mouthwash effective for gingivitis when combined with sage, peppermint oil and chamomile. Research has showed that the echinacea solution alone decreases oral bacteria and can be a viable alternative to chlorhexidine.
Safety: Generally safe; no reported acute or chronic toxicity.
Preparation & Use: Combine 1 teaspoon of echinacea tincture with 3 drops of sage oil. Dilute with 1/2 cup of water. Use as a mouthwash twice a day.
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha, Commiphora erythraea)
Active Ingredients: Resin, gum, and volatile oil.
Use: Astringent and antimicrobial; used topically for oral inflammations, has a soothing effect on inflamed tissues in the mouth and throat.
Safety: Generally safe; no known side effects.
Preparation & Use: To make a mouthwash add 5-10 drops of myrrh tincture to 20mL (shot glass) of warm water, swish in the mouth for 30 seconds and then spit it out.
Apply the undiluted tincture directly to affected areas in mouth or on gums by swabbing 2-3 times daily.
Alternatively, mix 1/4 teaspoon of myrrh resin powder with water to create a paste and apply to the affected areas for 1-2 minutes and rinse thoroughly, use once a day.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Active Ingredients: 0.1–1.0% volatile oil, primarily menthol (29–48%) and menthone (20–31%).
Use: Carminative; peppermint oil or tea is often used to treat gas and indigestion. When applied topically, it acts as an analgesic and reduces pain. Freshens breath, widely used in toothpastes.
Safety: Generally safe; should be avoided by people with chronic heartburn, severe liver damage, inflammation of the gallbladder, or obstruction of bile ducts. People with gallstones should consult a physician before using peppermint leaf or oil.
Preparation & Use: Steep a handful of fresh peppermint leaves in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and cool. Use as a mouthwash twice a day.
For toothache, soak a cotton tip in peppermint oil and place on the cavity or rub onto the tooth.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Active Ingredients: Volatile oil (eucalyptol), rosmarinic acid, carnosol.
Use: Antibacterial; effective in chronic candidiasis. Antioxidant properties.
Safety: Safe for intermittent use; avoid during pregnancy.
Preparation & Use: To make a mouthwash prepare a tea by adding two teaspoons (10 g) of rosemary leaves to one cup (250 ml) of boiling water, allow it to steep in a covered container for 10–15 minutes. Strain and cool for use.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Active Ingredients: Alpha- and beta-thujone, camphor, cineole.
Use: Antibacterial and antiviral; recommended as a gargle for sore throat and mouthwash for gingivitis. Research has shown that sage mouthwash significantly lowers the number of bacteria that cause dental plaque.
Safety: Small amounts safe; avoid during pregnancy.
Preparation & Use: Brew sage tea by steeping 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried sage leaves in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. Use the cooled tea as a mouthwash, rinse for up to 60 seconds.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Active Ingredients: Phenols, thymol, carvacol.
Use: Antibacterial and antiseptic, used to treat oral tooth decay, gingivitis, plaque and bad breath. Thymol, an active component in thyme oil, is used as a dental varnish that protects the teeth from decay.
Safety: Generally safe; avoid systemic use during pregnancy.
Preparation & Use: Steep 1 tablespoon of thyme leaves in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and cool. Use the cooled infusion as a mouthwash twice a day.
Alternatively, to use as a mouthwash, add 2 drops of thyme oil to water and gargle.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller)
Active Ingredients: contains more than 75 different compounds, including vitamins (vitamin A, C, E, and B12), enzymes (amylase, catalase, and peroxidase), minerals (zinc, copper, selenium, and calcium), sugars (monosaccharides such as mannose-6-phosphate and polysaccharides such as glucomannans), anthraquinones (aloin and emodin), fatty acids (lupeol and campesterol), hormones (auxins and gibberellins), and others (salicylic acid, lignin, and saponins)
Use: Treatment of oral lesions. Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound healing properties. Significant clinical evidence has demonstrated that Aloe vera mouthwash and gel are effective in the prevention and treatment of gingivitis and periodontitis, and Aloe vera has proven to be as effective as other usual treatments such as chlorhexidine in reducing plaque and gingivitis.
Safety: Generally safe; powerful antioxidant and immune enhancer. Avoid using in cases of allergy to Aloe vera.
Preparation & Use: Extract a small amount of Aloe vera gel from the plant leaf and apply it directly to the affected areas in the mouth. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Aloe vera juice can be used as a mouthwash, and doesn’t need to be diluted. Make sure to use 100% pure juice. To use an Aloe vera mouthwash, swish the juice around in the mouth for 30 seconds and then spit it out. Repeat two to three times per day.
Note: If you have specific health conditions or are pregnant, always consult with a healthcare professional before introducing new herbs into your daily regimen.
Harness the power of nature for a healthier smile!
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- Rd, B. L. (2023, June 5). Echinacea: everything you need to know. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/echinacea-benefits-side-effects-and-more-7503379
- Sánchez M, González-Burgos E, Iglesias I, Gómez-Serranillos MP. Pharmacological Update Properties of Aloe Vera and its Major Active Constituents. Molecules. 2020 Mar 13;25(6):1324. doi: 10.3390/molecules25061324. PMID: 32183224; PMCID: PMC7144722.
- Cronkleton, E. (2023, February 26). 10 home remedies for gingivitis. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/gingivitis-home-remedy
- Thyme oil gets rid of infections + balances hormones – Dr. Axe. (2023, July 3). Dr. Axe. https://draxe.com/essential-oils/thyme-oil/