3 All-Natural Mouthwashes + 3 DIYs to Help Break Your Listerine Habit

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Do you remember those commercials that told you to suffer through your mouthwash routine? Well, a lot of us still follow that regimen. After all, mouthwash kills harmful bacteria in the mouth and leaves your breath smelling minty fresh… right?

Not exactly. While mouthwash does kill bacteria, it doesn’t distinguish between harmful bacteria and the helpful flora that live in your mouth. Since antibacterial mouthwashes can wipe out all of the good bacteria, the bad bacteria come back at a different rate, making the problem of bad breath even worse.

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Antibacterial mouthwashes can have even more adverse effects for some people due to their destruction of the oral microbiome. The oral microbiome is an essential part of a healthy gut microbiome, so blasting bacteria in the mouth can have repercussions on your digestion and even cardiovascular health (through disruption of nitric oxide production).

If we think of the gastrointestinal tract as a river, then the mouth is the source of that river. What you do in the mouth sets the stage for everything that comes after in the gastrointestinal tract and in the whole body.

The alcohol in most mouthwashes also dries out your mouth, which can make bad breath even worse, since saliva is what maintains a healthy pH in the mouth. Without saliva, bad bacteria run rampant and encourage halitosis (that’s the technical term for bad breath). The drying effects of mouthwash can even increase your risk of oral cancer, according to some studies.

The best way to keep your mouth smelling fresh is to brush, floss, and scrape your tongue at least once a day – no mouthwash needed.

But maybe you’re one of those people who loves their mouthwash routine and the fresh feeling it gives you. Especially if you’ve already transitioned to a better toothpaste that doesn’t have that super-minty flavor, you might not be entirely ready to give up mouthwash, and that’s okay.

There are a few products that aren’t as harmful as some of the bigger conventional brands (though in all honesty, you’re really spitting the money you invested in the product down the drain no matter what, as far as oral health is concerned).

When you’re picking a better mouthwash, go for something made with natural ingredients and avoid the following ingredients:

  • Alcohol
  • Chlorine dioxide
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine
  • Parabens
  • Poloxamer 407
  • Formaldehyde
  • Saccharin

Here are a few products we like for their all-natural approach to making your mouth taste and smell a little bit sweeter:

1. Oral Essentials

Oral Essentials is a dentist-formulated mouthwash made with Dead Sea salt, well known for its rich mineral content. Sea salt can actually help remineralize your teeth (remineralization is the process of restoring minerals to your teeth).

This mouthwash also contains holy basil oil, a known adaptogen (a substance considered helpful in helping the body adapt to stress), and aloe vera juice, which is renowned for its soothing and healing properties.

Keep in mind, because there are essential oils in this mouthwash, it’s best to use sparingly rather than daily.

Boost Remineralization
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Oral Essentials Clean & Fresh Mouthwash

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2. Georganics Coconut oil Pulling Mouthwash

This mouthwash was formulated in accordance with an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for bad breath known as oil pulling. The mouthwash has a light coconut aroma thanks to organic coconut oil.

Oil Pulling Option
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Georganics Coconut Oil Pulling Mouthwash

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3. Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash

This mouthwash is made with neem, also known as the Indian toothbrush tree. Studies have shown that neem is as powerful for mouth health as chlorhexidine (a common disinfectant and antiseptic) without being nearly as dangerous.

Neem-Powered Option
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Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash

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BONUS! 3 Homemade Mouthwash Recipes

You can also make your own homemade mouthwash very simply with distilled water and baking soda. No need to add essential oils as they kill bacteria and could be harmful. Add sea salt to the combo for more mineralizing properties, though this mixture may be a bit less palatable. Then again, if you’ve been spending years swishing strong alcohol solutions, then a natural mix of baking soda, water, and salt should be a breeze! 

Here are my top recipes for DIY mouthwashes to address specific concerns:

Dr. Mark Burhenne

Got more questions about mouthwash and its effects on your oral health? Ask me a question!

Read Next: Can Rinsing With Mouthwash Replace Brushing?

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18 Comments

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  1. You recommend not using essential oils in the homemade mouthwash but the link provided in #7 has tea tree oil and peppermint listed. Is that a recipe you recommend even with the oils?

    • I have the same question as Melissa

      • I think it’s pretty clear in this article: https://askthedentist.com/essential-oils-toothpaste/ that he doesn’t think you should use mouth wash at all and these are just temporary mouth washes to tie you over if your mouth washing is more of a habit. It seems clear to me that the last one is the only one that he would really recommend, but the list is a variety of things that are just LESS harmful than your standard mouth wash like Listerine.

        • So no, no essential oils – they are harsh and kill the good germs too.

  2. Do you have any experience with Triphala mouthwash? I have seen a couple of studies that support using it. What is your opinion? Thanks.

    • William: I do not recommend it as it’s highly bactericidal. You’ll see on Askthedentist.com that I write often about the disadvantages of using a mouthwash that is designed to kill bacteria. This mouthwash you asked about also contains cinnamon essential oil which is one of the biggest offenders of altering the biome of the mouth.

      drb

  3. Victoria Hurst says:

    What mouthwash do you suggest Dr?

  4. Cynthia Daugherty says:

    I have Type 2 diabetes and am prone to infections. Is there a better mouthwash for us?

  5. Hi Dr. B,
    Thank you for this information. If I go the route of making my own mouthwash, is there a way for me to prepare this in advance in let’s say a mason jar or something? Or do I have to mix the baking soda and water together in a cup each time I use ? Just thinking of an easy way to do this with my morning routine . Thank you !

    • I’m not sure, but I believe I’ve read that the efficacy of baking soda diminishes if it isn’t used straight away, so I would say you should keep a little plastic spoon, cup and your baking soda container in your bathroom cupboard and just make yourself a quick mix every morning 🙂

  6. How much baking soda should I use in half a cup of water?

  7. My mouth is often dry in the mornings and no matter how much water I drink in in the morning, its still dry, until I eat some food or something warm. It becomes dryer when I use toothpaste or mouthwash. Then later, it becomes too salivery and when I speak, saliva is spewing out. I’ve stopped using mouthwash and instead put toothpaste and baking soda on my toothbrush. But I have seen little improvement.

    • Hi this post was a year ago but I only just saw it, I hope you got relief for your dry mouth but if not and for anyone else I’d like to share my experience, taking tablets for my heart condition I have a very dry mouth and I find some relief by oil pulling, with olive oil and sometimes with coconut oil which tastes better, anyway oil pull for five minutes first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I hope that helps you as it helps me.

  8. Thanks for the great info! I brush my teeth twice a day and floss daily and never have been much of a mout wash user. Recently my dentist told me that I would benefit from using alcohol free mouth wash with fluoride so help prevent tooth decay because I have issues with acid reflux. Would you agree?

  9. A natural mouthwash is so much better than store bought. People have no idea of the things in commercial mouthwash.

  10. Is hydrogen peroxide mixed with water safe to gargle with?

    • Mark Burhenne, DDS says:

      Peroxide should not be used in the mouth on a regular basis. Hydrogen Peroxide, when it comes into contact with the tissues, causes free radical reactions. These are the same reactions that age living tissue.

      Best wishes,
      Dr. B

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