Dear Annie, I’ve heard in the news recently that there are bad chemicals in most mainstream toothpastes and mouthwashes. I think one of those chemicals is called Triclosan, and now I’m afraid to use any products sold in stores. Are there ways to make my own using household products? – Mark, VT
Dear Mark, What can one do to freshen the mouth and sweeten the breath without using commercial mouthwashes? Standard commercial mouthwashes can contain large amounts of ethyl alcohol (a suspected carcinogen), artificial colors, preservatives, and flavors, and antiseptics and astringents. They also can contain benzalkonium chloride, a suspected liver, respiratory, and brain toxicant.
Natural plant extracts can give the same antiseptic, astringent, and mouth freshening effect. It’s easy to make your own mouthwash from scratch. Here are some DIY mouthwash formulas.
#1. Essential Oil Mouthwash
Add a few drops of one or more essential oils that have antiseptic or astringent properties to two cups of water. Make sure that the oils are 100 percent pure. Essential oils are available in health food stores.
#2. Aloe Vera Mouthwash
The healing properties of aloe vera are legendary. Add 1/2 cup of aloe vera juice to 1 1/2 cups of water, and then add a few drops of essential oil of your choice.
#3. Chew On It
Chew on a fennel seed, star anise seed, or cinnamon stick.
#4. Apple/Herbal/Vera Mouthwash
Soak for a day 1/4 cup herb of choice in two cups of apple cider vinegar. Strain away the herb and add 1 more cup of water or aloe vera juice.
Make enough of your home-made mouthwash at one time to last as long as a commercial brand. Store covered in a glass jar.
My dentist offers a brand of mouthwash that I really like named PerioClear. It is only available from professionals. If you’d like to find one ready-made mouthwash, ask your dentist to carry this brand as it is made of natural herbs and essential oils, and is preservative-free.
Have a question for Annie? Write to her at annie [@] thetruefind [dot] com
By Annie B. Bond, the best-selling and award-winning author of five healthy/green living books, including Better Basics for the Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Home Enlightenment, Clean & Green (1990), and most recently True Food (National Geographic, 2010 and winner of Gourmand Awards Best Health and Nutrition Cookbook in the World). She has authored literally thousands of articles and was named “the foremost expert on green living” by Body & Soul magazine (2009).
“Echte Aloe von oben” by 3268zauber – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –