Essential oils compared to chlorhexidine with respect to plaque and parameters of gingival inflammation: a systematic review

J Periodontol. 2011 Feb;82(2):174-94. doi: 10.1902/jop.2010.100266. Epub 2010 Nov 2.


Background: The purpose of this review is to systematically evaluate the effects of an essential-oil mouthwash (EOMW) compared to a chlorhexidine mouthwash with respect to plaque and parameters of gingival inflammation.

Methods: PubMed/MEDLINE and Cochrane CENTRAL databases were searched for studies up to and including September 2010 to identify appropriate articles. A comprehensive search was designed, and the articles were independently screened for eligibility by two reviewers. Articles that evaluated the effects of the EOMW compared to chlorhexidine mouthwash were included. Where appropriate, a meta-analysis was performed, and weighted mean differences (WMDs) were calculated.

Results: A total of 390 unique articles were found, of which 19 articles met the eligibility criteria. A meta-analysis of long-term studies (duration ≥ 4 weeks) showed that the chlorhexidine mouthwash provided significantly better effects regarding plaque control than EOMW (WMD: 0.19; P = 0.0009). No significant difference with respect to reduction of gingival inflammation was found between EOMW and chlorhexidine mouthwash (WMD: 0.03; P = 0.58).

Conclusion: In long-term use, the standardized formulation of EOMW appeared to be a reliable alternative to chlorhexidine mouthwash with respect to parameters of gingival inflammation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / therapeutic use*
  • Chlorhexidine / therapeutic use*
  • Dental Plaque / prevention & control*
  • Evidence-Based Dentistry
  • Gingivitis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouthwashes / chemistry
  • Mouthwashes / therapeutic use*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Mouthwashes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Chlorhexidine