Reduction of mouth malodour and volatile sulphur compounds in intensive care patients using an essential oil mouthwash

Phytother Res. 2007 Jul;21(7):641-3. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2127.


The aim of this study was to explore the effect of an essential oil solution on levels of malodour and production of volatile sulphur compounds (VSC) in patients nursed in intensive care unit (ICU). Thirty two patients received 3 min of oral cleaning using an essential oil solution (mixture of tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, peppermint, Mentha piperita and lemon, Citrus limon) on the first day, and Tantum (benzydamine hydrochloride) on the second day. Two trained nurses measured the level of malodour with a 10 cm visual analogue scale (VAS) and VSC with a Halimeter before (Pre), 5 min after (Post I) and 1 h following treatment (Post II). The level of oral malodour was significantly different following the essential oil session, and differed significantly between two sessions at Post I (p < 0.005) and Post II (p < 0.001). Differences between the two sessions were significant (Tantum, p < 0.001; essential oil, p < 0.001) in the level of VSC and significantly lower in the essential oil session than Tantum at the Post II (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that mouth care using an essential oil mixture of diluted tea tree, peppermint and lemon may be an effective method to reduce malodour and VSC in intensive care unit patients.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benzydamine
  • Citrus
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Halitosis / drug therapy*
  • Halitosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melaleuca
  • Mentha
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouthwashes / administration & dosage
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Mouthwashes
  • Plant Oils
  • Benzydamine