Can Essential Oils Damage Teeth?

When it comes to essential oils and teeth, there is one major discussion point: do essential oils damage enamel.

Let’s Talk about Acid

Some say that lemon essential oil and other citrus oils damage teeth.  The damage is said to the be linked to the concentration of citric acid. There is one big flaw in this argument: citric acid is a weak acid that is water soluble and not contained within essential oils.

In general, there are very few acids in essential oils.  There are some found in small amounts in essential oils such as benzoic acid, cinnamic acid and angelic acid, however the concentration is low (<3%). Citric acid is not found within essential oils. Citrus juices, however, especially fresh lemon and lime juice, do contain a high concentration of citric acid (up to 8%).

How Can we be Confident that Essential Oils Don’t Cause Acid Erosion?

In a private study, fifty-five milliliters of purified water were placed in a beaker and the pH of was measured to be 7.4.  Fifteen drops of orange essential oil were added to this beaker and the pH did not change. An additional 10 drops of orange essential oil were added to the beaker and the pH still did not change, indicating that little to no acids are contained in the oil. This was expected since acids are not oil soluble, and any acids that are removed from the plant during distillation remain the aqueous phase of the distillate after separation.

Conversely, an equal amount of freshly squeezed orange, lime, lemon, or tangerine juice caused the pH to shift downwards.  These changes in pH represented more than a 10-fold increase in the acidity of the solution.  These results confirm that citrus essential oils do not contain the acids found in orange juices. Therefore, essential oil is very unlikely to cause acid erosion to enamel.

Bottom Line

Essential oils and teeth are a safe combination. There is no evidence that essential oils can cause damage to enamel or demineralize teeth.

Want to read more about essential oils and teeth?

Come check out this blog post on Cinnamon Bark.

For even more education about essential oils, supplements, and wellness, check out my book, Essentials: 75 Answers to Common Questions About Essential Oils and Supplements! Or better yet, Join the YL Education Club, your essential oil video encyclopedia.