How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Dental Health

© J.Garcia/photocuisine/Corbis

If you clean your teeth properly and follow nutritional eating habits, you should have healthy gums and strong teeth into your elder years. There are many ways to keep your mouth healthy and one natural remedy is using tea tree oil.

Tea tree oil, also called melaleuca oil, is taken from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia. It is a well-known natural disinfectant and has been used for years in the medical and dental professions as an effective antiseptic that is active against many bacteria, virus and fungi, including some that are resistant to antibiotics. However, it is not as effective as oral antibiotics in some conditions.

Tea tree oil and its products are easily available over-the-counter but the best tea tree oil products contain oil from the species Melaleuca alternifolia only, standardized to contain no more than 10 percent cineol (which can be an irritant) and at least 30 percent terpinen-4-ol.

Benefits of tea tree oil

Many herbalists regard it as their first choice disinfectant for external use. Uses of tea tree oil include:

  • Acne – tea tree oil is a well-known treatment for acne, with fewer side effects than the prescriptive treatment.
  • Fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, ringworm and diaper rash – it can be applied directly to infection several times a day.
  • Boils and insect bites
  • Dandruff and lice
  • Yeast infection
  • Warts
  • Mouth infections
  • Minor cuts

Tea tree oil for dental health

© Dental Information

  • Plaque prevention – Tea tree oil fights infectious microorganisms that destroy tissues in the mouth, cause plaque, receding gums and tartar deposits. The following herbs can be mixed with tea tree oil:

o   burdock – has anti-bacteria properties

o   horsetail – help in restoring and healing damaged gums

o   myrrh – disinfectant and astringent that can help tone the gum tissue

o   neem – an antibacterial ayurvedic herb

  • Bad breath – Tea tree oil, when used as a mouthwash, has anti-deodorant properties, most likely because it suppresses odor-causing bacteria and sweetens bad breath.
  • Gum disease – Australian dentists frequently use tea tree oil mouthwash prior to dental procedures and as a daily preventive measure against gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup creating inflammation of the gums, redness, swelling, and bleeding.

o   Swollen and sore gums can be rubbed directly with tea tree oil.

o   Add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil to small glass of water and swish around mouth twice daily.

o   Apply several drops directly onto toothpaste, and brush for at least 2 minutes. Floss and gargle with a tea tree oil mouthwash.

  • Toothache – Rinse teeth with gargle mixture by adding 3-5 drops of tea tree oil to a mouthwash. A small amount of aloe vera can be rubbed directly onto infected tooth.
  • Mouth sores or canker sores and cold sores– Add 3-5 drops of tea tree oil to a small glass of water and gargle this solution twice daily.

It is wise to note down that you should never swallow tea tree oil and you should rinse your mouth with fresh water thoroughly to make sure no tea tree oil residue is left in the mouth as ingestion may lead to side effects.

Tea tree oil side effects

Tea tree oil is used in variety of forms but it is important to note that as with any other essential oil, tea tree oil should never be taken internally, as surprisingly small amounts -even a teaspoon- may cause nerve damage and other problems if ingested.

If someone accidentally ingests tea tree oil, it is best to immediately dial 1-800-222-1222 to reach the Poison Help Hotline. If there is no access to the telephone, ask the person to drink a small amount of milk or water and escort the person to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.

People who have an allergy to celery and thyme should not use tea tree oil, since tea tree shares a potential allergen, d-limonene with these plants. Pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid tea tree oil usage.


Although tea tree oil has been hailed as an excellent natural remedy for many ailments, it is important to remember that effective plaque removal is done by mechanical cleaning and not only by the use of mouthwashes or gargles themselves. Practicing good oral hygiene with proper tooth brushing techniques and the usage of floss and mouthwash, as well as making regular appointments with your dentist every 6 months or so is the best way to ensure your mouth stays in a healthy condition.