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The Truth About Mainstream Mouthwash

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Many of us have heard about the risks involving using flouride toothpaste, but oral hygeine risks run deeper than flouride. According to The Institute For Natural Health, mainstream mouthwashes contain approximately seven different toxins that should be avoided, so let’s talk about them.

The number one concern people in the natural community usually have pertaining to oral care is flouride in toothpaste. Of course, that's just one of the many dangers also found in mainstrem mouthwash.

Natural Mouthwash Recommendations


Dangerous Ingredients Found in Mainstream Mouthwash

There are so many brands of mouthwash. The #1 selling mouthwash on Amazon is Listerine Total Care followed by TheraBreath Fresh Breath, Act Kids Bubble Gum Blowout, and Listerine Freshburst. Let's take a look at some of their ingredients.

Artificial Dyes

Artificial dyes can not only stain your teeth but they are also linked to tumor development and attention disorders. Commonly used mouthwash dyes like FD&C Green No. 3, D&C Yellow No. 10, and FD&C Blue No. 1 can cause liver damage, allergic reactions, genetic damage, asthmatic symptoms, and more (1). To learn more regarding The Truth About Food Coloring, click here.


Chlorhexidine is used to treat gingivitis. It helps to reduce the inflammation (redness) and swelling of your gums and to reduce gum bleeding. But here's the catch, Chlorhexidine may make other gum problems, such as periodontitis, worse (2). Additionally, Chlorhexidine kills bacteria in your mouth—both good and bad. It has also been linked to increased blood pressure and heart problems (3).


Most people know that fluoride is added to toothpaste, foods, and drinking water to help prevent dental decay supposedly. However, exposure to fluoride in more significant quantities may sabotage your health. For instance, skeletal fluorosis, a condition that causes denser bones, joint pain, and a limited range of joint movement, can be caused by eating, drinking, or breathing large amounts of fluoride. In the most severe cases of skeletal fluorosis, the spine is entirely rigid.

According to the Toxicological profile, they do not know if eating, drinking, or breathing fluoride can cause reproductive effects in humans, but they do mention other potential health effects of fluoride such as:

  • Respiratory effects

  • Cardiovascular effects

  • Gastrointestinal effects

  • Hematological effects

  • Musculoskeletal effects

  • Haptic effects

  • Renal effects

  • Endocrine effects

  • Bodyweight effects

  • Immunological and lymphoreticular effects

  • Neurological effects

  • Reproductive effects

  • Developmental effects

  • Cancer

  • Death (4)


Hexetidine is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical. Hexetidine has local-anesthetics, astringent and deodorant activity (5). This ingredient has been linked to irregular heartbeat and allergic reactions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are warned to avoid it (6).


Methylparaben is used to extend the shelf life of mouthwashes. Manufacturers often add methylparaben or sodium benzoate. From the second half of this ingredients name, we know it is a paraben. Both are endocrine disruptors that affect estrogen production. A British study has linked methylparaben to breast tumors in women (6). This doesn't necessarily mean parabens cause cancer, but they do penetrate the skin (or in this case get ingested), so its other harmful effects may be doing even more than studies have learned so far. The main concern with this chemical is that studies have suggested that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body, harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes and increase the risk of cancer (7).

Methyl Salicylate

Methyl salicylate is typically used topically in IcyHot, for temporary relief of minor aches and pains caused by strains, sprains, arthritis, bruising, nerve pain, simple backache, or pain in the lower spine (8). Methyl salicylate is a chemical added for flavor but can cause dilation of the capillaries (9). Methyl salicylate has also been linked to fatal poisonings in children (10).


Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) is a biocompatible, synthetic, hydrophilic polyether compound used as a binding and dispersing agent, as it can improve the separation of particles and prevent clumping (11). According to MADE SAFE, "The primary concern with PEG compounds is that Ethylene Oxide is used in their production in a process called ethoxylation. This process can cause contamination with Ethylene Oxide, a chemical associated with multiple kinds of cancer. Additionally, ethoxylated ingredients can also be contaminated with 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogen (12)."

Phosphoric Acid


Triclosan is another antibacterial agent added to mouthwash, toothpaste, and household cleaning products. High doses may lower thyroid hormone levels. Triclosan has been linked to cancer, thyroid disorders, and fertility problems. The FDA has banned it from children's toys and soaps (which I discussed in The Truth About Antibacterial Soap), but not a product used orally on a daily bases (13).

Natural Mouthwash Recommendations

  • Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash contains a potent Ayurvedic Formula with 23 herbal extracts & 9 essential oils, with Neem & Peelu. It’s rich in botanical extracts and essential oils that are full of beneficial properties for teeth and gums.

  • Nature's Answer Essential Oil Mouthwash is designed to saturate all of those hard-to-reach places to leave your mouth clean, moisturized and fresh. No burning or stinging. This premium formula has been developed to cleanse your mouth of odors with nature's powerful botanicals and essential oils.

DIY Natural, Toxin-Free Mouthwash

Since there aren't many Holistic Hipppie approved mouthwashes, I ended up formulating my own. So instead of using the mainstream stuff that’s brimming with toxins, I’ve decided to share my recipe with enthusiasm and confidence that you will use it, benefit from it, and appreciate it as much as I do! This recipe is non-toxic yet still amazingly refreshing. Let me break down each ingredient that I chose so you can better understand the benefits of my DIY recipe.


Peroxide with a 3% concentration is the base of this mouthwash. Gargling with peroxide has many oral health benefits, including:

  • Soothing a sore throat

  • Antibacterial properties

  • Reducing gum inflammation

  • Preventing infection of canker sores or other mouth wounds and helping them heal

  • Whitening teeth (14)

Apple Cider Vinegar

I use organic apple cider vinegar with mother and tart cherry. Apple cider vinegar can cause tooth enamel decay if you drink it straight or don’t dilute it. Still, with proper dilution, there are oral benefits to using a small amount of apple cider vinegar in mouthwash, such as:

  • Whitening teeth

  • Killing bacteria

  • Relieving painful canker sores (15)

Raw Honey

I also used a small amount of organic raw honey to emulsify the essential oils used in this mouthwash, which has tons of health benefits for oral health, like:

  • Helping prevent gum disease

  • Acting as an anti-inflammatory

  • Treating gum infections like gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis

  • Wound-healing properties

  • Soothing sore gums

  • Restricting the growth of plaque-forming bacteria

  • Treating receding gums (16)

Clove Bud Essential Oil

Clove bud essential oil isn’t just for taste or smell; it has many oral health benefits, including:

  • Natural anesthetic

  • Anti-inflammatory properties

  • Reducing swelling and irritation

  • Reducing pain

  • Reducing infection (17)

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree essential oil also has many oral health benefits, such as:

  • Antimicrobial properties

  • Anti-fungal properties

  • Anti-viral properties

  • Anti-inflammatory properties

  • Reducing oral pain

  • Reducing oral bacteria (18)

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil isn’t just for taste, but it also has many oral health benefits, like:

  • Freshening breath

  • Anti-bacterial properties

  • Anti-fungal properties

  • Protecting against cavities (19)

Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil also has many oral health benefits, including:

  • Acting as a natural antiseptic

  • Preventing tooth decay

  • Antimicrobial properties

  • Slowing cavity progression

  • Preventing cavities (20)

Orange Essential Oil

Orange essential oil also isn’t just for taste; it has many oral health benefits, such as:

  • Anti-fungal properties

  • Anti-bacterial properties

  • Reducing oral pain

  • Helping prevent cavities and gum disease (2)

What is your go-to mouthwash alternative?

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