Although many people are fine with the average commercial mouthwash, some prefer a natural mouthwash recipe that doesn't contain ingredients such as alcohol, fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sugar or artificial sweeteners. Mainstream dentistry considers those ingredients safe, but some people interested in a more natural approach often prefer to avoid them.
One option is to use essential oils that help to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, and their benefits in oral care abound: A review of 11 studies published in the March 2008 issue of Evidence-Based Dentistry concluded that mouthrinses containing essential oils, combined with standard home dental care, helped reduce plaque and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).
According to Reader's Digest, herbal solutions like echinacea and myrrh are terrific infection-killers, and can soothe a sore throat at the same time. Consider gargling this recipe a couple of times a day:
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons echinacea tincture
- 3-4 drops myrrh essential oil (Commiphora myrrha)
- 2 drops tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Blend the ingredients in a dark container, and store in a cool, dark place. When it's ready for use, close your mixture and shake it well. Swish it in your mouth for up to a minute. Then spit it out and rinse your mouth with water.
Both essential oils in this recipe have research that backs up their antimicrobial activity. For example, the University of Western Australia School of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine – which has done extensive research on tea tree oil made from a plant native to Australia – states that many laboratory studies support claims of the essential oil's antimicrobial activity.
Just the Essentials
Echinacea is an immune-stimulating herb that can help fight inflammation and infection; however, you can make natural mouthrinse with just water and essential oil. Add one to two drops of essential oil to a quarter cup of water, and gargle with it. Tea tree and myrrh are good choices, but if your main concern is fresh breath, you can use peppermint or spearmint essential oil.
Buying Essential Oils
The production of essential oils is not regulated in the United States, as noted by the FDA, and the quality of essential oils on the market varies greatly, so researching what you buy is a must. As a start, look for essential oils in dark bottles (usually brown or blue) that protect the oils from the light. High-quality oils usually include both the Latin and the English name on the bottle and contain no additives. If you do prefer to buy a mouthwash, Colgate Total® Advanced Pro-Shield™ kills 99 percent of germs on contact, reduces plaque and helps prevent gingivitis.