Occasionally, a news story or alternative health website may suggest using essential oils to mitigate bad breath. While these compounds often smell fresh or pleasant on their own, they ultimately offer little in the way of halitosis treatment.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology tested the ability of two essential oils, menthol and eucalyptol, to reduce the pungency of morning breath. After sleeping with one's mouth open all night, breath can smell quite powerful. This is due to volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which are released by anaerobic bacteria as they multiply in a dry oral environment.
Eucalyptol and menthol are extracts taken from the eucalyptus and mint plants. Essential oils are, like VSCs, volatile aromatic compounds. As you might expect, this shared characteristic - volatility - means that VSCs and essential oils do not necessarily cancel one another out.
In the study, researchers found that the two oils did nothing to significantly reduce the levels of VSCs associated with morning breath.
When halitosis caused by mouth breathing is at its worst, some people choose to rinse their palate with a specialty breath freshener designed to eliminate VSCs and moisten the mouth.