Can I use neem oil for dental care?

by Yusimi Barrios
(Hamilton, ON, Canada)

I have a 2.5 year old and I would like to use neem oil on his gums as a cleanser. I've read a lot of information on-line saying that it's ok to ingest it as long as it's thoroughly diluted. But other sites say that it's not ok to ingest neem oil at all. My son cannot gargle or use mouthwash and does not yet know how to spit. Can you help?

Thank you.

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Neem and dental care
by: Birgit

Hi Yusimi,
Your question touches on several issues:

  1. Neem and dental care:
    Neem bark is the part of the neem tree that is most effective in preventing cavities and gum disease, followed by neem leaf.

    Neem dental care products contain either neem leaf extract or neem bark extract. Neem leaf extract is more common, but only because the bark extract gives the product an unappealing brownish colour.

    If you need a product to rub on the gums get a mouth gel. Neem oil is not used for dental care, and it is not a cleanser.

    More about neem and dental care.

  2. Ingesting neem oil:
    Neem oil is very potent stuff. It is mainly used in very dilute form as a bug repellent and antifeedant spray, in the garden, on pets, or for certain hair and skin parasites. (Neem oil is also a very nourishing and balancing skin care ingredient, but that does not relate to your question.)

    If you spray your vegetable garden you may ingest traces of neem oil with your vegetables. If you spray a dog the dog may ingest some when licking its fur. This is safe. Spray is very diluted to start with, and you don't drink it. You only ingest tiny amounts.

    I suspect this is the context in which you read that diluted neem oil is safe to ingest. I doubt any responsible source anywhere suggests that you should self-medicate with neem oil internally. You shouldn't.

    Neem oil can be made safe for consumption, but the normal raw or refined product that you buy for use around the garden etc. is not intended for internal use. Some studies showed that it is totally safe, even in higher doses, but others showed that extended internal use can have side effects, especially in children!

  3. More below...

Continued from above...
by: Birgit

  • Neem for children:
    If you do more research you will soon come across warnings to not treat children with neem. The reason is a study in 1982 (Sinniah et al.) that investigated the use of neem oil as a general cure-all for children.

    Children under the age of four were given doses (5-30 ml) of neem oil, and they came down with a disease similar to Reye's syndrome (a severe and potentially fatal disorder, involving swelling of the brain, liver, and other organs).

    Neither Reye's syndrome nor the neem oil induced similar disorder are well understood. Reye's occurs mostly in children, mostly after a viral infection, and it is associated with aspirin usage. Neem oil contains aspirin like substances. That's where researchers suspect the connection.

    This study is what prompted the warnings to not treat fevers in children with neem. (See also the warning in my footer.)

    Now, this doesn't necessarily mean ingesting neem oil is dangerous. The study used huge amounts of neem oil. (If you turned that into a neem spray you'd have to drink up to six litres of it. Actually, more, since adults would need more to get the same dose...)

    Also, neem oil only showed the same effect that aspirin can have in a similar situation. And aspirin is considered safe under normal circumstances.

    Still, the common sense message from this is that neem oil and neem extracts should not be used internally until we know more.
    More on neem safety and toxicity.

  • So, to wrap this up...

    • Neem bark and neem leaf are used for dental care, not neem oil.
    • It is generally safe to ingest small amounts (traces) of neem oil.
    • Young children, in particular ill children, should not take neem internally.

    I hope that answers all your questions.

neem oil
by: Dr.Vasantha

Neem oil ingestion in infants and children caused fits, blindness and even death.
Use should be discouraged.
Recently we had a child who was given a ground paste of tender neem leaves, garlic. pepper (2 seeds) and seeragam , admitted with loss of consciousness and non convulsive status had severe hypoglycemia. He recovered with symptomatic treatment

Neem leaf extract for meningitis
by: Gui Poom

Hello Birgit,

In one of the remote places in our developing countries, an adult was diagnosed of meningitis. The elders just pounded neem leaves, extracted the juice (half a liter) and added lemon juice (about a cup) and pour it in small doses into the mouth of the sick man (he was already stiff and they blocked open his mouth with a spoon) and he came back to himself in few minutes!!! The crisis has left and the person was healed... just like that. They used about one third of the mixture. And they told me they did the same thing in a young boy of 10 years' old and got the same result.

Do you have any information about neem and meningitis? I understand the use of neem in children is not recommended.

Looking forward to your reply. Thanks!

Neem use in children
by: Birgit

Hi Gui,
This thread is about dental care, so I'll keep it short.
At this stage I have no detailed or scientific info on use of neem with meningitis.

Neem oil and neem leaf juice are not the same thing. (Ingestion of neem oil is not recommended at all.)

Use of neem is not recommended in children with fever. See what I wrote above about Reye Syndrome and aspirin.
Personally I'd be careful with using neem internally in children with signs of any illness, fever or not. There is no hard data, but some worrying anecdotal reports. I just wouldn't take chances.

In countries where neem is used routinely as a natural remedy, the healers (hopefully) have the experience and understanding required to decide when the use of neem is appropriate and when not.

I don't doubt your story at all. But I would not recommend that people use neem in such a situation (unless of course you are stuck in the jungle on your own and have no other option).

We lack the necessary understanding and accumulated experience to safely use neem in such a drastic way.

Is neem safe for infants with Seborrhea?
by: JD

My baby is 3 months old and has bad seborrhea. It hurts to see her itch. Will topical neem oil help on her scalp and face?

Neem Oil
by: Mike

I suffered from sensitive teeth and poor dental health. I started to brush my teeth with a drop of neem oil then dipped in bicarbonate of soda. It has had an amazing effect on the health of my teeth.


Is neem oil safe to use on a 3 month's old face?
by: Anonymous


My 3 month old daughter has eczema from drooling and fungal infection. We don't want to use steroid creams. Is it safe to use diluted Neem oil as you suggest with olive oil? Will it be effective? We have a pure organic neem oil. I am also concerned that her rash is close to her mouth so she could accidentally swallow some amount as she all the time has her fist around her mouth.

Please suggest.

Neem Leaf Liquid Herbal Extract
by: Anonymous

I use a toothpaste made with neem and tea tree oil and wintergreen flavored. I purchased it online. I have many other products made with neem as well made by Neem Aura Naturals. I also use a drop of neem oil on my toothbrush which keeps my gums healthy and whitens my teeth like no other product I have ever used. I also put a couple drops in my mouth wash, homeopathic mouthwash of course, it's base is cinnamon, tastes great.

Neem Leaf Liquid Herbal Extract is a form of Neem that can be taken orally. I use it myself, and feel completely safe taking it. It supports the immune system as well as well as helps maintain healthy bloodsugar levels already within a normal range. Of course I am an adult, so I can see where there could be a problem using Neem orally with a child under the age of two.

Thank you for letting me share my experiences.

by: Anonymous

David Wolfe who runs longevity warehouse, a health product website, sells a neem oil for teeth that I really like.
I'm not sure these comments apply to his product.

can I use neem oil for tooth pain
by: Anonymous

Can I use neem oil for tooth pain

Neem oil in dog dental products
by: Anonymous

I have a tiny 4lb pom whose gums have been inflamed from a puppy. Did not get any vet help for this & her mouth is so tiny she would never let me do any brushing. She was plagued with infection in the gums and after losing several of her teeth I tried a pet dental spray containing neem oil which has really helped. I rub it on her teeth & gums a couple times a day after feedings.

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