Woman holding an oversized photo of a smiling mouth over her face

Mouth care: top herbal remedies for common oral ailments

May 15th marks the start of this year’s National Smile Month run by the British Dental Health Foundation to raise awareness of the importance of looking after your teeth and keeping them for life.

Editor Jane Garton looks at some herbal remedies that can help your oral health routine.


Those painful raw lesions that can appear on your gums or elsewhere in your mouth could be a sign that your immune system is below par.


Try applying a drop of neat echinacea tincture to the affected area every hour. Washing your mouth out with sage may also help. To make a mouthwash, put 200g of dried sage leaves into a litre of boiling water. Infuse for around 10 minutes and strain. Wash your mouth out with it two or three times a day.


Bad breath or halitosis is usually a result of gum infection, tooth decay, bad digestion or bits of food caught between the teeth.


In the first instance you need to pinpoint the cause and take appropriate action, which may involve a visit to your dentist. Chewing on a sprig of raw parsley is a tried-and-tested natural remedy. Why does it work? The leaves are rich in chlorophyll, which acts as a powerful bad breath neutralizer.


Too much sugar in the diet is a common cause of tooth decay as is poor dental hygiene. A small cavity or hole can quickly lead to tooth decay so it pays to take protective action.


Cutting down on sugary foods and fizzy drinks can reduce the risk of decay, as can regular brushing and flossing. Washing your mouth out with an infusion of thyme can help to keep your mouth bacteria-free while if a tooth starts to ache, chewing a clove three or four times a day or rubbing a drop of the essential oil on to the affected area may bring relief.

A peppermint mouthwash is also worth a try. Simply put 1 dessertspoon of dried leaves into 150 ml of boiling water. Infuse for 10-15 minutes. Strain and use warm as a mouthwash two or three times a day.


  • Brush and floss your teeth twice a day
  • Change your toothbrush every four to six weeks
  • Cut down on sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly or as often as they recommend

For more tips and advice visit the NHS dental care pages online.