Nowadays, more and more people are incorporating natural products such as essential oils into their everyday life. These products are becoming increasingly popular not just because of their powerful benefits for overall health but also for how safe they are. Essential oils are primarily used as soothing agents for pain and anxiety. In dentistry, essential oils are gradually being used owing to their antibacterial, antioxidant, and antifungal properties.
However, before elaborating on essential oil use in dentistry, first, let us look at what these oils are and how to use them in a safe way.
Properties of an essential oil
There are more than a hundred types of essential oils, and each has its unique properties and benefits. Their use in traditional medicine systems goes back by almost 5,000 years. Interestingly, their use has only increased with time, and they continue to gain popularity among the masses.
What is an essential oil?
Several plants are known to have therapeutic properties. They have phytochemicals and other structural components that benefit their growth and enhance human health and well-being. Essential oils are nothing but concentrated extracts from the roots, bark, leaves, or rinds of these plants. There are several ways of doing it. The most common method is simple distillation. It involves boiling water with the parts of the plant and allowing it to condense in a collection vessel.
Another method is steam distillation, where high-pressure steam is passed through biomass so that the steam releases volatile and non-volatile essential oil compounds.
Cold pressing is another common method. The biomass is pricked or scraped before pressing and rinsing the oil with water. The oil is then separated from water for use.
How is essential oil different from flavor extracts?
Though often used interchangeably, there is a considerable difference between flavor extracts and essential oils. While extracts are mainly used for their fragrance in perfumes and cooking, essential oils have medicinal properties. They are primarily used in aromatherapy and medical settings.
Traditional uses of essential oil
Essential oils have been used across cultures for centuries. Their earliest adopters included countries such as Egypt, France, China, India, and Greece. Traditionally, essential oils are used for disinfection, personal care, improving immunity, and more.
Why are people shifting to natural products for oral care?
With more and more people moving toward clean and sustainable living, essential oils have emerged to be a popular choice. They are safe when used correctly. This makes them perfect for long-term use. Essential oils have no additives that make them harmful to humans.
Though they are safe, you must never start using them without consulting your doctor. For instance, if you want to use oil for toothache or any other dental problem, talk to your dentist first.
Essential oils and oral health
There has been an increasing interest with incorporating essential oils in dentistry. This is mainly because of their antibacterial, antioxidant, and antifungal properties. According to the Journal of Oral Health, essential oils are used for the following processes.
- Oils such as tea tree oil are widely used for dental cleaningand plaque removal. They keep the teeth free from cavities and stains for a longer time. They also promote teeth cleaningby preventingbiofilm formation on the teeth.
- Essential oils like lavender impact mood by stimulating parasympathetic activity in your autonomic nervous system. This helps control dental phobia by calming the mind and reducing anxiety when administered just 15 minutes before your appointment.
- Toothpaste made with peppermint essential oil keeps your breath fresh and prevents gingivitis because of its antibacterial properties.
- Clove oil has strong antibiotic properties and acts as a painkiller. It is often used to cure toothaches. It also helps remove bacteria settled in deep gum pockets and reduces the risk of gum diseases.
- Cinnamon oil prevents fungal infections in the mouth.
- Eucalyptus oil is often used to strengthen gums and fight gum diseases and gingivitis.
- Rosemary oil is a natural disinfectant, removes cavity-causing bacteria, and heals sporadic toothaches.
Although many essential oils are found to be suitable for a thorough dental cleaning and other purposes, they should still be used carefully. Here are some precautions when using essential oils:
- Never ingest essential oils. It may cause irritation and burns and may even lead to toxicity. If you ingest it by mistake, immediately spit it out and gargle.
- Never start using essential oils without talking to your doctor. Or, use it under the advice and supervision of a professional who has experience dealing with these oils. They are best used in skin care products or diffused unless your dentist advises a few treatments.
- Essential oils like tea tree oil are an excellent disinfectant for your toothbrush. All you need to do is combine 8-10 drops of the oil with a full glass of water. Let your toothbrush soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Never use concentrated essential oils directly. Always dilute them before using them.
The Bottom Line
When used correctly and under the supervision or guidance of a holistic practitioner, dentist, or health professional, essential oils can be an investment in your oral health. As a powerful alternative medicine, they are generally safe (unless there are allergies or other medical issues, which is why it is recommended to consult a professional before using). However, they are not meant to be a replacement for the course of treatment advised by your doctor.