Tea tree oil is often known as one of nature's antiseptics with various properties that make it a natural healing solution. While often applied topically to the skin, it can also be useful in dental aids such as mouthwashes. If you're suffering from bad breath, a tea tree oil mouthwash may help. How does this oil deal with bad breath and does it really work?
Tea Tree Oil and Bacteria
Bad breath is often caused by bacteria that lodges on your teeth, gums and tongue. This bacteria, if left untreated, releases gases that can make your breath smell really bad.
Tea tree oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. These properties may enable the oil to kill the bacteria that are causing your bad breath. Its antiseptic qualities also make your breath smell fresher.
How Effective Is a Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash?
At the very least, using a tea tree oil mouthwash will make your mouth smell better in the short term; longer term, the oil can be an effective way of tackling oral bacteria and fungi, according to Dental Guide Australia. Unlike some other mouthwashes, tea tree oil doesn't just mask smells but may be able to tackle the problems that cause them.
Tip: You can also make a homemade tea tree oil mouthwash if you prefer not to use commercial products. According to the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association, 3-6 drops of tea tree oil added to warm water can make an effective mouthwash.
When Tea Tree Oil Might Not Work
It's important to remember that tea tree oil mouthwashes can't necessarily fix all oral bacteria issues on their own. Typically, a mouthwash will give the best results if you also maintain good oral hygiene, making sure that you brush and floss your teeth twice a day to try to limit the bacteria that builds up in your mouth. It's also a good idea to brush your tongue regularly to help get rid of bacteria that lodges on it.
You also need to consider the reasons behind your bad breath. A tea tree oil mouthwash may be able to treat bad breath that is caused by regular oral bacteria but may not be able to deal with bad breath that has an underlying cause.
For example, if you are on a medication that gives you bad breath, a mouthwash may mask the smell but may not be able to stop it from happening. In this case, you can ask your doctor if it is possible to switch to a medication that doesn't have this side effect. If your bad breath persists or gets worse for no obvious reason, it may be worth talking to your dentist to see if you have an underlying issue that may be making your breath smell bad such as gum problems.
Warning: While tea tree oil is safe for use in the mouth, you should not swallow it, especially in its pure oil form. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, tea tree oil can be poisonous if ingested.