Benefits of Propolis for Oral Health

Propolis is a naturally occurring ingredient with antimicrobial properties. According to some research, it contributes to oral health care. Why? Find out!
Benefits of Propolis for Oral Health
Franciele Rohor de Souza

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist Franciele Rohor de Souza.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Propolis is one of the natural ingredients that help oral health care. Due to its interesting pharmacological composition – which includes flavonoids, phenolic acids and esters – people have been using it for years as an adjuvant to protect teeth and gums.

In fact, as an article published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine explains, preparations based on this ingredient have a wide variety of applications in dentistry. In particular, they take advantage of its antimicrobial, antiviral, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Do you want to know more about it?

Main benefits of propolis for your oral health

Propolis is also known as “bee glue”. The reason is that it’s a material that bees use to seal the walls of their hive and protect it against external agents that may contaminate it.

It’s a resinous, yellowish-brown or dark brown material that is created by mixing substances obtained from tree buds and other botanical sources with a substance secreted by bee glands.

Since ancient times, this material has been valued for its medicinal applications, since its richness in nutrients and bioactive compounds contribute to improve health and prevent the onset of diseases. According to a publication in Nutrients magazine, this composition includes the following:

  • Phenolic acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Esters
  • Diterpenes
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Lignans
  • Aromatic aldehydes
  • Alcohols
  • Amino acids
  • Fatty acids

Vitamins and minerals

Now, although the uses of propolis at a medicinal level are quite broad, we’ll focus on its benefits for oral health. Did you know that it helps prevent tooth decay and periodontal diseases? We’ll tell you everything science has to say about it.

A tooth with a cavity.
You can prevent cavities with propolis, since its antimicrobial activity stops the proliferation of microorganisms in the mouth.

Discover: Taking Care of Your Teeth in the Summer

Propolis for cavity prevention

One of the main applications of propolis for oral health is preventing cavities. In this regard, a study published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences states that this ingredient has antibacterial properties that fight oral pathogens such as Streptococcus spp, Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus.

These bacteria are responsible for the development of cavities and other dental diseases. Specifically, propolis inhibits their enzymatic activity and cell division, which prevents their proliferation. In addition, due to its content of flavonoids and organic acids, it also fights other oral bacteria that cause infection.

Propolis for periodontal diseases

The antifungal and antimicrobial properties of propolis are also useful for the prevention and management of periodontal diseases. A research article reported in Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects determined that propolis extracts fight periodontopathic bacteria such as the following:

  • Capnocytophaga gingivalis
  • Prevotella intermedia
  • Fusobacterium neucleatum
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis

Likewise, it seems to contribute to the prevention of bone loss in periodontal conditions and, in turn, prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause superinfection, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Candida albicans.

Propolis as an anti-inflammatory

The flavonoids and caffeic acid contained in propolis give it a potent anti-inflammatory effect, useful in the treatment of dental diseases involving inflammation, such as gingivitis.

In a study published in the Journal of Dentomaxillofacial Science, propolis was useful as a pulp capping agent due to its anti-inflammatory activity.

A natural remedy consists of adding 30 drops of propolis extract in half a glass of water (100 milliliters). Then, you should use the liquid for rinsing 2 or 3 times a day. In case of noticeable inflammation of the gums, it’s best to use cold water.

Antiviral activity of propolis

You shouldn’t overlook that viruses also affect oral health. In this sense, propolis turns out to be a great ally, since its extracts help to inhibit viral entry. Its antiviral effects are attributed to its content of polyphenols, flavonoids and phenylcarboxylic acids.

According to a publication in Phytotherapy Research, aqueous and ethanolic propolis extracts have strong antiviral potential, especially against the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) that causes gingivostomatitis and cold sores.

Is it safe to use propolis to take care of your oral health?

Propolis drops.
It’s safe for most people to use it for their oral health, but it’s not a first-line treatment.

For most healthy adults, propolis is beneficial and poses no risk if used properly. However, there have been reported cases of allergies to this resinous material, manifested by skin rashes. It may also irritate oral mucous membranes.

It’s not recommended for pregnant women, since there are few studies on its effects at this stage. On the other hand, it warns of possible interactions with antiviral, anticancer, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Its allergic manifestations include the following:

  • Eczema
  • Cheilitis
  • Mouth pain
  • Lip edema
  • Peeling of the lips

For now, specialists recommend further research to determine safe guidelines for the use of propolis in dentistry and medicine. While the findings are quite promising, they’re still considered insufficient to consider this ingredient a first-choice treatment.

Propolis: a coadjuvant for your oral health

It’s not a miracle remedy against dental infections, however, propolis does have potential as an ally to take care of oral health. As a result, toothpastes, rinses, extracts, balms, tinctures and a wide variety of other products have been made from this ingredient.

In any case, it should be used in moderation, only as an adjuvant and not as a remedy. You should follow the product manufacturer’s recommendations for use. In case of dental diseases, it’s best to consult a dental professional.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Więckiewicz W, Miernik M, Więckiewicz M, Morawiec T. Does propolis help to maintain oral health?. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:351062. doi:10.1155/2013/351062
  • Braakhuis A. Evidence on the Health Benefits of Supplemental Propolis. Nutrients. 2019;11(11):2705. Published 2019 Nov 8. doi:10.3390/nu11112705
  • Abbasi AJ, Mohammadi F, Bayat M, et al. Applications of Propolis in Dentistry: A Review. Ethiop J Health Sci. 2018;28(4):505-512. doi:10.4314/ejhs.v28i4.16
  • Khurshid Z, Naseem M, Zafar MS, Najeeb S, Zohaib S. Propolis: A natural biomaterial for dental and oral healthcare. J Dent Res Dent Clin Dent Prospects. 2017;11(4):265-274. doi:10.15171/joddd.2017.046
  • Sabir, A. (2016). The healing actions of propolis on direct pulp capping treatment : A review. Journal of Dentomaxillofacial Science, 1(1), 188.
  • Schnitzler P, Neuner A, Nolkemper S, Zundel C, Nowack H, Sensch KH, Reichling J. Antiviral activity and mode of action of propolis extracts and selected compounds. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24 Suppl 1:S20-8. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2868. Erratum in: Phytother Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):632. PMID: 19472427.
  • Brailo V, Boras VV, Alajbeg I, Juras V. Delayed contact sensitivity on the lips and oral mucosa due to propolis-case report. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2006 Jul 1;11(4):E303-4. PMID: 16816812.
  • Hausen BM, Wollenweber E, Senff H, Post B. Propolis allergy. (I). Origin, properties, usage and literature review. Contact Dermatitis. 1987 Sep;17(3):163-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1987.tb02699.x. PMID: 3315436.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.