The mouthwash we now know of today became popular in the mid- late 1800s by Dr. Joseph Listers (as in Listerine) who discovered that by using an antiseptic before oral surgery it significantly decreased mortality rates. In 1879, Dr. Lawrence created Listerine – a mouthwash used for cleaning mouths and sterilizing surgical wounds. Fast forward to today and mouthwash is one of the most widely used personal care products out there. More and more we are seeing natural options but like most things we need to be our own advocates especially when it comes to reading labels. The processed ingredients in mouthwash, especially alcohol, are very effective at killing ALL bacteria in our mouths, key word here being “ALL”. Now the science is clear: not all bacteria are “bad.”

We have learned that alcohol-based mouthwashes are found to kill beneficial bacteria that help support oral health. Studies have found that alcohol (mainly Ethanol) found in mainstream mouthwash does not aid in any type of therapeutic benefit. Just like hand sanitizers can affect our immune systems negatively, the same goes for mouthwash, which can cause long term ill health affects as it will throw off our microbiome and interfere with the right order of our bodies.

Dentist Dr. Jason Woloski (1) shares a recent study (2) where researchers examined the link between developing diabetes and using mouthwash. They found that frequent mouthwash users (twice daily or more) were at a 55% higher risk of developing diabetes or having dangerous blood sugar spikes within three years. The microbes and bacteria in your mouth form chemicals needed for your body to function. These chemicals play a role in regulating blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and other important functions, all of which are related to diabetes. Twice daily mouthwash use can decrease beneficial chemical levels by 90 percent—meaning these functions could be disrupted and lead to diabetes. Its so important to read labels when it comes to our food and beauty products but we must do the same for personal care products including mouthwash and toothpaste. Here is a list of ingredients to avoid:


Chlorine dioxide

Chlorhexidine (RX only)

Cocamidopropyl betaine 


Poloxamer 407



Testing has found the presence of alcohol and other ingredients in many mouthwashes which claim to contain “no alcohol”. So the best way to avoid unknown toxins is to make your own. A very easy wash is warm water and baking soda. Data has shown that it can help freshen your breath and provides antibacterial and antimicrobial properties as well. Adding in a drop or two of peppermint oil for its fresh flavor and an all-natural Xylitol, which has been proven to help fight dental cavities will improve the taste and effectiveness of this homemade wash. Another easy solution is to rinse with warm water and salt for a deep cleaning rinse especially after a sugary treat. I like using Ancient Lakes Mineral Balance essential electrolyte salt. Below is an awesome recipe to make that will not only naturally support your mouth and teeth but will aid in the build up and strengthening of your enamel.

A Natural Solution – Mineral infused mouthwash:

* 2 tsp calcium carbonate powder

* 10 drops concentrated trace minerals liquid (I like this brand)

* 10 drops peppermint essential oil

* 5 drops lemon essential oil 

* 2 cups filtered water

1. Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar.

2. Mix well and use morning and night.

3. Can be stored at room temperature for a week or two, or in the fridge for up to a month.

Some other great mouthwash options:

Im a big fan of this tooth oil and find it very effective and refreshing to swish around with some warm water especially for swollen gums or tooth pain

Food for Thought: Did you know that the human body requires certain minerals in small quantities in order to function properly? Minerals like zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), selenium (Se), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), iodine (I), manganese (Mn), and molybdenum (Mo) are considered “essential” and directly influence the metabolic and physiological processes of your body. An absence of these minerals may result in a severe malfunction in bodily function. What is beneficial for your body as a whole is also beneficial for your mouth. In oral care, trace minerals are shown to have positive healing effects on oral diseases like oral leukoplakia, oral submucous fibrosis, and even oral cancer (should be used in conjunction with other medical treatments, not instead of). Using a rinse with essential trace minerals in it is a great way to keep your mouth healthy and fight disease. -Dr. Pedram Shojai OMD, Dr. Elmira Shojai DDS, & Sean Rivas in the Gateway to Health Docuseries