The efficacy of an essential oil antiseptic mouthrinse vs. dental floss in controlling interproximal gingivitis: a comparative study

J Am Dent Assoc. 2003 Mar;134(3):359-65. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2003.0167.


Background: The use of dental floss has long been considered to be effective in controlling interproximal plaque and gingivitis. The authors compared this method with that of use of a mouthrinse.

Methods: Subjects with mild-to-moderate gingivitis enrolled in a long-term, six-month study. They received a dental prophylaxis and were randomized into one of the three following treatment groups: brushing and rinsing with an essential oil-containing mouthrinse (the BEO group), brushing and flossing (the BF group) and brushing and rinsing with a control rinse (the B group).

Results: A total of 326 subjects were evaluated. The BEO and BF had significantly lower (P < .001) mean interproximal Modified Gingival Index, or MGI, scores than did the B group at six months. The BEO group had lower mean interproximal Plaque Index, or PI, scores than the other two groups at both three and six months. The BF group's mean PI score was significantly lower than the B group's mean score at six months only. The magnitude of reductions for the BEO and the BF groups (vs. the B group) in MGI were 11.1 percent and 4.3 percent and for PI were 20.0 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Conclusions: In conjunction with professional care (prophylaxis) and toothbrushing over six months, rinsing twice daily with an essential oil-containing mouthrinse was at least as good as flossing daily in reducing interproximal plaque and gingivitis. Clinical Implications. When weighing recommendations for oral hygiene home care, clinicians should consider that an essential oil-containing mouthrinse may be a useful adjunct in patients with gingival inflammation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Devices, Home Care
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Gingivitis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Periodontal Index
  • Salicylates / therapeutic use*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Drug Combinations
  • Mouthwashes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Salicylates
  • Terpenes
  • Listerine