By Courtney Yalen
Of all the personal hygiene battles we face every day, perhaps fighting bad breath is one of the most common. After too much coffee, a garlicky meal or a day without enough water, your breath could be offending not only the object of your smooching affections, but those in close proximity to you at the gym, on the subway, and in other confined spaces.
Most of us would turn to a stick of gum or a mouthwash to solve the problem, but did you know that some common mouthwashes actually use ingredients that could be more harmful to your overall oral health in the long run?
For example, alcohol in mouthwashes can simply make your mouth dry or irritated, and it’s a no no for those who follow halal rules. But what’s worse is that many common mouthwash brands have questionable ingredients that can not only kill the healthy bacteria in your mouth, but seriously harm your health if you swallow a bit. A short, partial list of harmful mouthwash chemicals includes chlorhexidine, cocamidopropyl betaine, parabens, poloxamer 407, formaldehyde and saccharin – but there can be a lot more nasty chemicals hiding in what you’re putting in your mouth.
Luckily, Mother Nature provides plenty of natural products to improve both bad breath and overall oral health. Any rinse with pure, organic peppermint, eucalyptus, cinnamon, myrrh, clove, lemon, orange, or rosemary pure natural oils will be the best for your chompers. All of these are a combination of powerful antivirals, antifungals, antibacterials and antioxidants (many are at least three of these!) that will leave your breath fresh.
Natural Mouthwash Recipes
First, let me stress that the oils you use here should be 100% pure organic essential oils! Look for EcoCert or Soil Association labels to ensure you’re not using any synthetic flavours. Personally, I would recommend using distilled water, too, as a lot of tap waters in America have been found to be contaminated with fluoride and heavy metals.
Recipe 1: 1c Water, 1t Himalayan salt, pinch baking soda, drop organic peppermint, clove or tea tree oil. Add all into a glass, stir it up, take a swig, rinse and spit.
Recipe 2: Neem or coconut oil and warm water. Just rub the oil directly all over your teeth and tongue then rinse with warm water. Bonus: these oils also prevent decay.
Recipe 3: Well, it’s not really a recipe: it’s an ancient Ayurvedic technique known as ‘oil pulling‘ and it does a lot more than freshen your breath. For example, it can:
- Actually cure tooth decay
- Help detox the body
- Heal bleeding gums
- Prevent heart disease
- Reduce inflammation
- Whiten teeth
- Soothe throat dryness
- Prevent cavities
- Heal cracked lips
- Boost Immune System
- Improve acne
All you need to do is swish a tablespoon of oil (typically coconut oil, but olive or sesame oil will do in a pinch) in your mouth for 10-20 minutes. It seems like a long time, and if you’re just looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror, it is. Try doing this while watching TV or something.
Oil pulling works by cleaning your mouth in a similar way that soap cleans dirty dishes: it sucks up toxins from your mouth and creates a clean, antiseptic oral environment that contributes to the proper flow of saliva and good bacteria that are needed to prevent cavities and disease.
Just be sure to spit the coconut oil out into the rubbish bin or toilet, because when cold, it solidifies and can block your pipes!
No time to make your own? Prefer something that’s already put together? Here’s our selection of some of the best all natural mouthwashes to freshen your breath and protect your oral health.
This alcohol-free luxury product looks great on the bathroom shelf! What you will find in this minimalist, dark brown glass package is a formulation that provides a solution to the sensitive problem of bad breath without disturbing saliva production of the natural pH of the mouth. It has a rather pleasantly cinnamon-y flavour overall.
Freshen your breath and keep your smile bright, without harsh abrasives or irritating chemicals. PowerSmile all natural mouthwash freshens your breath with powerful Peppermint Oil and Menthol while Grapefruit Seed and Perilla Seed Extracts help reduce tartar build-up. As an extra bonus: Aloe Vera Gel soothes gum irritation. Great product ingredients, but a shame the bottle is such a cheap, nasty plastic.
This is America’s top selling natural mouthwash brand, and I reckon it’s because it is really darned refreshing! If you love that really cool – almost cold- feeling of peppermint in your mouth, this one’s for you. Too bad this doesn’t come in a glass bottle, though.
Not crazy about the taste of coconut? This blend is made with Organic Coconut Oil and Anise Star Essential Oil, giving it a gently unique flavour. Activated Charcoal from coconut shells is also added to make this formula a very mild abrasive that also helps to gently whiten the teeth and detoxify the mouth of nasty bacteria.
Formulated by dentists, this contains organically grown essential oils powerful enough to kill the oral bacteria responsible for dental decay, gingivitis (gum disease), and halitosis (bad breath), but it’s gentle enough not to dry or irritate the mouth the way many commercial mouthwashes do. Taste options are lavender or orange, which is a nice change for those who aren’t mint fans!
The antiseptic and antibacterial activity of neem has been assessed and used orally since ancient times. Since studies have shown that oral rinses with neem versus chlorhexidine yield the same results, why wouldn’t you use the natural choice with the least side effects? The consistency and taste of this may take a few days to get used to, but keep in mind you’re on your way to your healthiest mouth ever – the natural way!
If you simply want to freshen breath on the go, try Moondani Naturals Natural Breath Mist. Fennel is used for its antiseptic properties and for increasing salivation and aiding digestion, which is why many Indian restaurants provide fennel seeds after a meal. The taste is sweet and refreshing at the same time without being aggressive. And with no additives, preservatives, alcohol or sugar, this vegan and cruelty-free mini spray is the perfect pick-me-up on the go!
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