Bad breath! Yikes. Fewer things help ruin a first impression (or a third date… or any date, for that matter), but lots of people object to fluoride and/or alcohol-based mouthwashes. If you’re looking for something less chemically doctored, you’ve got options. Here are three natural mouthwash alternatives! We’ve updated this post in 2022 to include some additional information on natural and effective mouthwash alternatives and how they work.
How Does Natural Mouthwash Work?
Natural mouthwash can provide some alternatives for those who are sensitive to some of the ingredients contained in over-the-counter mouthwash, such as alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC). Some of the active ingredients in mouthwash are antiseptic, which means they kill or stop the spread of microorganisms, like the bacteria that cause tooth decay or bad breath. In other types of mouthwash, the ingredients do not actually kill or stop the spread of bacteria, but rather leave an attractive scent in the mouth, such as mint, in order to fight bad breath.
Natural mouthwashes work with a similar principle; the ingredients may be antiseptic to stop the spread of harmful bacteria, or they might leave an attractive scent on the mouth to reduce the effects of bad breath.
Is Mouthwash Safe?
Not a Substitute for Brushing or Flossing
It’s important to keep in mind that no mouthwash, including a traditional mouthwash like Listerine or a natural mouthwash alternative, should be used as a replacement for brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing is the most effective way to protect your teeth and gums from gingivitis, decay, and infections. Mouthwash alone will not effectively clean or protect your teeth.
Not a Substitute for Prescriptions
Some mouthwashes are provided only with a prescription. These may be used to treat infections or serious dental health issues, reduce pain or swelling, help form blood clots, and more. If specific mouthwash has been prescribed to you, especially in treating a health condition or after a surgery, use only the prescribed mouthwash. In these cases, an alternative mouthwash can worsen a health issue or cause harmful effects after a surgery.
Ingredients and Concentrations
Over-the-counter mouthwashes verified by the American Dental Association and given the ADA seal of approval have been found by independent researchers to be safe and effective. If you are looking for an over-the-counter mouthwash to boost bacteria-fighting power or fight bad breath, the ADA seal of approval is a great place to start.
Many mouthwash alternatives have not yet undergone rigorous study, though they may still be safe and effective. It’s important to consider the ingredients carefully and keep in mind that a “natural” ingredient can still be harmful to your health if it is used improperly. Many natural bacteria-fighting ingredients, like tea tree oil, can be harmful if ingested in a high concentration. If you are mixing and ingesting essential oils, be sure to consider the concentration of ingredients very carefully.
3 Natural Mouthwash Alternatives
These natural mouthwash alternatives may help to reduce plaque buildup or bad breath. Many of these mouthwash alternatives utilize essential oils with antiseptic properties, which kill or stop the growth of harmful bacteria. Keep in mind that antiseptic substances can be harmful if they are ingested in a high concentration, so you must be careful if you are mixing essential oils to create your own natural mouthwash alternative.
Links to the following products can help you find the right alternative natural mouthwash. There is no paid partnership or incentives involved with any of the following products. Use of these links should not be considered product endorsements.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash uses tea tree oil, aloe vera gel, witch hazel distillate, and spearmint essential oil, which may help to plaque build-up and fight bad breath. Since it doesn’t use alcohol or menthol, you probably won’t experience the intense sensation of other mouthwashes.
This product does not show the concentration of tea tree oil, so it should be used with caution. High concentrations of tea tree oil, when ingested, can be harmful to your health. However, some evidence suggests that tea tree oil can be effective in fighting gingivitis. The tea tree oil dental products tested by researchers usually contain less than 1% tea tree oil, with the highest concentration being 5% in a gel form.
2. Alcohol Free Oral Rinse with Essential Oils
Eco-DenT Ultimate Daily Rinse is alcohol free and advertised as a “wound cleanser” in addition to a daily rinse. The active ingredient in this product is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). It also uses peppermint oil, echinacea extract, stevia extract, tea tree oil, orange oil, lemon oil, and other essential oils. Since it does not contain alcohol or menthol, it will probably not give the intense sensation that other mouthwashes do.
Though there is some evidence that suggests that the active ingredient, baking soda, can help in wound healing, you should see your dentist if you have a concerning cut or sore in your mouth.
3. Neem Mouthwash
TheraNeem Mouthwash from Organix South combines extracts of neem bark and neem leaf, as well as clove, spearmint, star anise, aloe, and more. It is advertised to “support healthy gums and teeth,” and “clean and freshen breath while soothing gums.” This natural mouthwash alternative also does not contain alcohol.
Neem oil is similar to tea tree oil in its antiseptic properties, including antimicrobial and antifungal properties. The research behind neem oil as an effective way to destroy gingivitis-causing bacteria is ongoing, though some in vitro (in a petri dish) research suggests this may be effective. However, like tea tree oil, neem oil in high concentrations can irritate the skin and can be dangerous if ingested.
Of course it’s important to see the dentist regularly, whatever mouthwash you use. If you’re seeking the services of cosmetic dentists in Las Vegas, check out BDG today.