Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from the Australian tea tree plant (Melaleuca alternifolia.) It is antibacterial and antifungal, and research shows that it is effective in treating acne, dandruff, insect bites and a range of fungal infections. Tea tree oil may also help with some dental conditions. Dentists in Australia use it as an antiseptic before dental work and to help prevent periodontal disease. Some herbalists use tea tree oil to treat sore throats, gum infections and yeast infections in the mouth. Research does not definitively support these uses, but there may be some benefit to using tea tree oil for these conditions. You should always dilute tea tree oil before using it orally.
Measure out 1 cup of water or mouthwash. Either is fine to use. Pour it into the jar or bottle.
Add 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil. Use a small amount if you are using the rinse as a daily preventative. Use a higher amount if you are using it to treat an acute condition such as a gum infection. You can safely add up to about 1/8 teaspoon to the diluting agent.
Cap the jar or bottle and shake it vigorously.
Pour a small amount from the jar or bottle into the cup.
Swish or gargle with the mixture for at least 30 seconds. When you are finished, spit the mixture into the sink. Do not swallow it.
Use the wash twice a day as a daily preventative. Use it up to four times a day to treat conditions such as a sore throat or gum infection. If you are using diluted tea tree oil to treat an oral infection, use it for two to four weeks or until the condition improves. You do not need to refrigerate the mixture. Always shake the mixture before you use it.
You can add other oils to flavor this mouthwash such as peppermint or spearmint oil. Although it is bitter, myrrh tincture is also helpful for many dental problems and you may want to add a small amount to the mouthwash. If you wish to sweeten this wash, add a small amount of stevia to taste.
Tea tree oil can be toxic if taken internally. Never swallow or drink it. However, the mixture described here is very diluted so do not worry if you accidentally swallow a very small amount. Tea tree oil can also be irritating to the skin. Stop using it if you experience any mouth irritation. Do not get tea tree oil in your eyes.
- Scientific Committee on Consumer Products Opinion on Tea Tree Oil; European Commission Health and Consumer Protection Directorate; 2004
- Prescription for Herbal Healing; Phyllis A. Balch; 2002
Rachel Greenleaf has been writing and publishing for over 15 years. Her literary work has appeared in publications including "Harvard Review," "Black Warrior Review" and "Barrow Street." She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts from George Mason University.