Are you looking to use natural remedies for tooth problems? Studies on essential oils reveal they can relieve toothaches, reduce inflammation, fight cavity-causing bacteria, remove plaque, neutralize lousy odor among other benefits. In this article, we discuss eight essential oils that do just that.
The state of one’s teeth is often an indication of their general health. That holds true due to the scientific conclusions that state sugar is the primary cause of tooth decay. If you have experienced a toothache in your lifetime, it is likely due to having foods and drinks high in carb and sugar, coupled with poor oral hygiene. As part of taking care of their teeth and gums, people are now opting for more traditional and plant-based methods. This shift comes from the increased awareness of the effects of highly chemicalised products.
Essential oils are one route that many are now embracing. Clinical trials show that these plant extracts can be used for therapeutic and preventive purposes. In this article, we will discuss the causes of toothaches, tooth decay and tooth infections and how to prevent those using essential oils and proper dental care.
Table of Contents
Causes Of Toothaches
Though they all involve pain, there are different types of toothaches. They can range from mild to severe with characteristics being constant pain or during certain times such as when biting, chewing, at night or when you take certain foods or drinks.
If you’ve ever experienced a toothache, you may have had a difficult time in pinpointing the exact location of the pain. Often, when you visit a dentist, the site of the perceived pain is not the source of the problem. That is what is known as referred pain. Extreme cases of toothaches can be swelling around a tooth, discharge from the gum or tooth, accompanied by other symptoms such as a headache, jaw pain or fever.
When your tooth aches, it means that the pulp, the soft inside part of a tooth, is inflamed. The nerve endings are what transmit pain signals to the brain, alerting you to the issue. The most common reasons are tooth decay, cracked tooth, damaged filling, infected gums, infected sinuses, injured jaw, worn enamel, abscessed tooth, impacted wisdom tooth or teeth grinding.
Being the most common problem faced by children and adults alike, we’ll have a look at the cause in detail. Cavities come about when plaque breaks down the tooth’s enamel (the surface), leaving the pulp exposes. You’re able to know of this sensitive part when you experience a sharp pain when drinking or eating certain beverages or food, particularly those that are either hot or cold.
Depending on the severity, there are three ways in which tooth decay gets treated. The dentist could remove the decayed part and put a filling, perform a root canal should the pump infected, and ultimately, if a tooth decays beyond repair, they will extract the tooth.
Causes Of Tooth Decay
What are the top causes of tooth decay? According to this article based on research published in the BMC Public Health journal, the only reason for tooth decay in children and adults is sugar. The rates between the US and other countries that consume less processed foods and sugar, the percentages of tooth decay are staggering. In the United States, 92 percent of adults suffer from this problem, as compared to Nigeria where only 2% suffer the same fate. Sodas and fruit juices were found to be the primary culprits.
Apart from causing chronic illness and reduced bone density, Weston A. Price, the pioneer for the American Dental Association (ADA), found that Western diet caused tooth decay. He lived in between 1870 and 1948. During this life, he discovered many isolated indigenous tribes had perfect teeth with very few suffering from tooth decay. That however changed once exposed to modern foods.
According to the ADA, tooth decay comes about by the interaction between the bacteria in the mouth and the sugars and starches left in the teeth. The byproduct is acids which, over a period, destroy tooth enamel, the result being tooth decay.
Though largely preventable, tooth decay also referred to as dental caries in scientific studies, is the most prevalent chronic non-infectious disease affecting both children and adults. That makes it one of the highest preventable infectious diseases on the planet. Though there has been a decline in the past four decades within the American population, there are disparities among various groups. The decrease has not been the same for all age groups; the number of dental caries is increasing among young children.
The quality of life and the type of oral hygiene, or lack thereof, dictate the chronic conditions seen globally. With over 750 bacteria species inhabiting the oral cavity, the lack of proper care makes one susceptible to tooth decay and infections quite easily. There has been previous research done to find other plant-based alternatives to antibacterial agents to treat oral health problems, but they have reduced undesirable side effects. These include vomiting and diarrhea. The increased ability with which bacteria have become resistant to drugs is further driving the need for research for other alternatives.
Can Tooth Decay Be Reversed?
Unlike a cavity, tooth decay is reversible. According to this study conducted, tooth decay is reversible with proper health- it suggested that reducing or eliminating the intake of cereal in children lead to less tooth decays. Breakfast foods targeted toward children tend to have more sugar than brands marketed for adults. Grain-free diets and taking vitamin D, vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat showed the most significant improvement in healing almost all tooth problems.
Other causes of tooth decay include calcium, magnesium and phosphorus deficiency, lack of fat-soluble vitamins in the diet, especially Vitamin D and overconsumption of phytic acid-rich foods and processed sugar
Cavity vs. tooth decay
Often when people feel a sharp pain, they often assume that they have a hole. For that reason, we’ll look into what it is to help better distinguish the difference.
Cavities are a result of tooth decay. It happens when the plaque, substance that forms the combination of food debris, acid, and saliva, cling to the teeth and dissolves the enamel, creating holes. Anyone who eats a high-carb and sugar diet is likely to get cavities- it is not just children. A dentist diagnoses cavities. They do so by taking x-rays or looking for soft spots between your teeth. Apart from the accompanied pain, you should be able to see holes in your teeth as it advances.
The treatment for a cavity largely depends on how advanced it is. Most times a dentist will use a drill to remove the decay and after that insert a filling. They can either use porcelain, composite resin, silver alloy or gold. If the tooth is severely decayed, the doctor will remove the damaged parts of your tooth and place a crown. For a dead or injured root or pulp, a root canal is the best course of action. It involves removing the nerve, tissue, blood vessels and the decayed portions. The hole is then filled and sometimes has a crown placed.
Also known as a tooth abscess, this is when a bacterial infection causes a pocket of pus to occur on different parts of the tooth or gum area. There is the periapical abscess found at the top of the root and the periodontal abscess which occurs in the gums by the root of the tooth. These typically happen as a result of an injury, prior dental work, or most commonly, an untreated dental cavity.
Treatment involves draining the pus to get rid of the infection. Often the tooth will be pulled out if a root canal cannot solve the problem. Like any infection, when left untreated, it can lead to life-threatening complications.
Symptoms of a tooth infection include a severe toothache with radiating pain to the neck, ear or jawbone, hot and cold temperature sensitivity and when biting or chewing. A swollen cheek or face, fever, tender or swollen lymph nodes and sudden rushes of salty fluids in your mouth that is both tastes and smells terrible followed by pain relief are other symptoms to expect. The latter trait is an indication of a ruptured abscess. If you have trouble breathing and swallowing, you ought to rush to an emergency room as these are signs that the infection is in advanced stages.
Importance Of Oral Hygiene
A lot of our fear and sometimes outright dislike for dentists stems from the fact that most of us wait for our teeth to deteriorate before we visit them. As a byproduct, during this time, the teeth are in bad shape and almost all, if not all, procedures may be painful. With advanced technology, this is now the exception than the rule.
Dental care ought to begin from an early age if we are to enjoy healthy white teeth in our middle age. It also decreases your need for dentures or implants in your later years and overall fewer aches and pains associated with having bad teeth.
Practices of good oral hygiene
At the core, good oral hygiene means your mouth looks healthy and smells the same. Your teeth should be clean and debris free, you have pink gums which don’t bleed or hurt when brushing or flossing and you don’t regularly have lousy breath.
We often underestimate the importance of good oral hygiene until pain occurs. When you adhere to and have a healthy routine, you’re able to eat, speak and even sleep properly. Great looking teeth that are healthy and white also boost our self-esteem and enhance our facial features when we smile. It’s ultimately necessary for our overall well-being. In the long run, you save more money as compared to the need for expensive procedures that come with deteriorating teeth.
There are two fundamental ways to care for your teeth, and that is brushing and flossing with a mouthwash rinse for added protection. The recommended number of brushes is two, accompanied by daily floss. Another thing to do is to regularly visit a dentist as they’ll be able to catch the problem long before it gets worse as opposed to waiting for a toothache to let you know you’re due for a checkup. They are also in a position to let you know areas that need more attention and recommend ways to go about caring for your teeth better. A balanced diet acts just as well to reduce the chances of tooth decay or gum disease.
Scientific research on Essential Oils for Oral Health
Essential oils are overall fantastic natural remedies that have been in use for thousands of years. They act to improve skin, hair, and body though they are mainly used in the modern day as an ingredient as part of a DIY treatment. When used on the teeth, they act to fight bacteria and plaque while keeping your teeth clean and white. There are different such oils you can use. The results vary, but they will combat gum disease and mouth ulcers while soothing the pain that comes with toothaches, tooth decay, and tooth infections.
The idea sounds more like old age tradition than a fact, which is not the case. There is scientific research to back these claims. It does however only apply to specific essential oils. Many clinical trials show EOs to be beneficial if used for preventative or therapeutic purposes, but there is a need for more studies to ascertain their safety and efficacy. There are 3000 known essential oils, with the medicinal plants identified for possessing antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Essential Oils For Teeth
The easiest way to use EOs is to mix them with water to form a bottle of mouthwash. All that’s required is one or two drops of it mixed with a quarter cup of filtered or distilled water.
1. Cinnamon Essential Oil
If you love cinnamon spice, then you’ll come to love this essential oil. It acts to prevent gingivitis caused by poor oral hygiene, oral thrush, and gum disease. Streptococcus mutans, the leading cause of tooth decay and the breaking down of the tooth enamel, can be combated by just adding a few drops of cinnamon essential oil to water to form your mouthwash. It equally works as an anti-parasitic and antioxidant.
The antibacterial and antifungal properties are incredible for the teeth and gum, and if you’re not keen about menthol based oils, then this works as a perfect alternative to improving your oral hygiene. You can expect to no longer deal with the unwanted effects of microbes and bacteria.
2. Clove essential oil
Clove has been around for many thousands of years and has been acting as a natural disinfectant. It has potent antibacterial properties that inhibit bacterial growth in the mouth and serves as a painkiller when a person has canker sores, gum disease, and a standard toothache. For immediate relief, put a few dabs on the affected area. The added benefits are that it acts as an antifungal and antioxidant as well.
3. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
The studies on this type of oil do display antimicrobial activity against most yeasts, bacteria, fungi and filamentous. It has an anti-inflammatory effect when treating infectious diseases.
4. Myrrh Essential Oil
This essential oil works excellently as an antiseptic and soothes the pains associated with teeth, gum and ulcer concerns. Another added property, it is believed, that myrrh aid in the stimulation of blood flow for improved gum health and strength. A word of caution is that it has a warm and woody aroma. That may not make it ideal compared to the other better-tasting oils mentioned. If you’re not bothered by it, then it’s something to purchase.
5. Lavender Essential Oil
If you’re a mother, you may have come across this remedy for the alleviating teething pains babies’ experience. Mixed with virgin coconut oil, rubbing this combination will gently put them out of their misery. You should also expect them, and yourself, to have a good night sleep; lavender essential oil is known its soothing and relaxing properties outside of oral care. When inhaled or orally administered, it also reduces anxiety and stress, leading to an improved mood.
6. Lemon Essential Oil
If you’re looking for antifungal against Candida, lemon EO is the one to go for. Also known as oral thrush, this problem is common in persons with an immune deficiency, babies and people using steroid sprays for their asthma. White lesions on the inner cheeks or tongue characterize this problem.
7. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is a commonly used flavor in toothpaste and mouthwashes, and that’s due to its clean and fresh taste. For the most part, these products only use the flavoring, meaning there are not benefits to reap. However, with peppermint essential oil, there is a myriad of problems that you can treat. The active ingredient, menthol, is effective against various bacteria including an anaerobic type that’s known to thrive in the mouth.
Its antimicrobial properties have helped people, for centuries, clear infections from the teeth and gum while making the mouth fresh. It acts as antibiofilm meaning it inhibits fungal strains, decreasing drug resistance and pathogenesis.
8. Spearmint Essential Oil
This oil works similarly to peppermint but it sweeter than it. People who prefer something lighter in the mouth would choose this, but it ultimately gets the job done.
Essential Oils For A Tooth Infection
It goes without saying that these are natural remedies and add a boost to your dental hygiene but should not cause you to opt out of a dentist appointment. Should you suspect you have an infection, you should see a dentist, or a doctor should you be experiencing the symptoms of an infection such as fever.
Studies have shown that using antibiotics and EOs can reduce antibiotic resistance. Three essential oils found to have antibiotic resistance-modifying agents are lavender, peppermint, and cinnamon bark when taking piperacillin, a broad spectrum antibiotic.
Essential oils should not be ingested and should only act as mouth rinses. Before letting your child use water and essential oil based mouthwash, consult a medical expert. Lavender has proven to be the mildest with the others being too strong. Should you choose to use it, ensure that you are present and guiding them.
Plant-based extracts are not always without side effects. Before using any of the EOs, it is critical to ascertain that you don’t have any allergies toward them. It is also worthy to note that some studies indicate that if you practice good oral hygiene, additional measures aren’t necessary. You, therefore, ought to use these should you suspect you need them. They do not treat cavities or infections, and should you suffer from either, visit a dentist immediately.
Essential oils, along with the dental practices such as oil pulling and using baking soda, should be used as part of oral hygiene and not as a replacement. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and flossing are at the core of maintaining healthy teeth. EOs will then act as a preventive measure or help reverse the effect of tooth decay before you get a cavity. Tooth infections should not be treated using essential oils but you should see a doctor or dentist should you suspect you’re suffering from one.
If you’re looking to start a small selection of essential oils to use, lavender and peppermint are fantastic for a start. You can opt to add a third to make your mouthwash.