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In the United States, interest in and use of alternative or complementary medicine has increased in recent years, a report from the National Health Statistics Report reveals. One remedy that’s become increasing popular is essential oils, with the market for the oils expected to reach nearly $12 billion by 2022, calculates Grandview Research. People who are into essential oils claim they help relieve everything from cold and flu symptoms to hormonal imbalances and from skin problems to dry mouth. But do essential oils for dry mouth work?

What’s the Deal with Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the chemicals of a plant that it give its flavor or scent. The oils are extracted from the plant using force or steam, and it usually takes a very large quantity of the plant to make a very small amount of oil.

Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy, meaning it’s believed that their scent can help cure whatever ails you. You can also add drops of the oil to mouthwash to help treat problems in the mouth or apply the oils topically to treat skin irritation or scalp problems.

Essential Oils for Dry Mouth

Two essential oils you might see recommended for dry mouth include clove oil and peppermint oil. Clove oil is thought to have antibacterial properties, which is believed to help reduce the risk for cavities and infection often associated with dry mouth. Peppermint is a common ingredient in mouthwash and toothpaste and is thought to help stimulate the production of saliva in the mouth.

How Effective Are Essential Oils?

The million dollar question is, will essential oils actually help you? It depends on how you use them. An overview of systemic reviews examining the use of the oils in aromatherapy, published in Maturitas, found that just 10 out of more than 200 reviews met the inclusion data. The reviews that did qualify didn’t produce convincing evidence for the effectiveness of essential oils when used for aromatherapy.

But, another systemic review, this one from the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, found that essential oils used in a mouthwash may provide some additional benefit in terms of plaque and gum disease reduction, when used with standard oral hygiene practices. None of the studies looked at the relationship between essential oils and dry mouth.

What Else Can You Do to Treat Dry Mouth?

If you’re dealing with dry mouth, one of the best things you can do is see your dentist to learn ways to cope with it or treat it. Dry mouth is often caused by medications or by chronic conditions. Treating a medical condition or adjusting the dose of your medicine might help alleviate your symptoms. The key is figuring out what is causing the dry mouth, before attempting to treat it.

Your dentist might also recommend a number of at-home remedies to help alleviate the discomfort of dry mouth. Those remedies can range from taking sips of water on a regular basis to chewing gum to stimulate saliva flow.

Using essential oils for dry mouth probably won’t hurt you, but it might not help you either. If you want answers and solutions to your dry mouth problem, your best bet is to stick to great oral hygiene habits and use quality products, such as Colgate Total Clean Minttoothpaste. Its great mint taste leaves your mouth clean and fresh. Also, work with your dentist and other members of your dental team to get to the bottom of your dry mouth issue.