Many people get confused or hung up on mouthwash. Is it necessary? What kind of mouthwash is best? How frequently should I use it? Like almost everything in life, there isn't one right answer. Best practices will vary from person to person. The main question to consider is what is the intended purpose of using mouthwash? Is it to freshen your breath, reduce bacterial load and inflammation, balance oral pH, or just hydrate and support the soft tissues of the mouth? Once you have determined the purpose of using mouthwash, you can better choose the one that’s right for you.
As a general rule, avoid mouthwashes that are harsh and drying, as well as overly antimicrobial. Think alcohol-based ACT or Listerine. While bacterial reduction may be an appropriate use-case for mouthwash, we want to shift our thinking from killing all the bugs to supporting the good bacteria and decreasing the bad ones. Same as we do for our gut flora. If bacterial overgrowth, bad breath, and inflammation are an issue, consider using Briocare Oral Swish by Briotech. It uses a combination of saline and hypochlorous acid (HOCl) to kill bacteria. Very simple ingredients, very effective and safe. Hypochlorous acid is similar to bleach yet some key differences render it non-toxic or caustic to skin cells. It tastes like pool water so you know it’s working! I’ve seen excellent results when people swish with it morning and night.
If inflammation is not an issue and you're looking to freshen your breath and promote good pH balance in the mouth, look for a mouthwash with simple, non-toxic ingredients with a minty flavor and a pH balancing effect. Simple, natural ingredients help minimize potential adverse reactions and a well balanced pH environment helps to strengthen enamel and promote fresh breath as a result of a healthy bacterial population. An option to consider is Risewell’s Balancing Mouthwash - it has a great minty flavor, contains no harmful chemicals like SLS or propylene glycol, and helps to balance oral pH!
Another option to consider is a technique called “oil-pulling” which has been used for thousands of years. It’s very simple in concept and in practice. About a tablespoon of oil is swished in the mouth for 10-15 minutes to help reduce bacteria and inflammation. Coconut oil seems to be the top choice due to its pleasant flavor and lauric acid content which has antimicrobial properties. As the oil swishes around the mouth the bacteria get “pulled” into the oil and rinsed away. There is some scientific evidence supporting claims of bacterial reduction, decreased inflammation, and fresher breath. Pro tip - spit the oil out in the trash vs the sink to avoid potentially clogging your pipes!
If all that sounds too fancy and you'd like a simple option to rinse with, consider homemade saline (salt water). At 0.9% concentration, saline is perfectly isotonic which will prevent harsh interactions with the oral tissues. It also has only a mildly salty taste and can be effective at decreasing plaque and soothing gum tissue. To achieve this concentration, dissolve 0.9g of kosher salt in 100ml of water (or 9g per liter for a larger batch). For reference, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt is about 10 grams. Hypertonic saline solution is a little more potent and can have a greater antimicrobial effect. 1 tablespoon of kosher salt dissolved in 2-4 cups of water is a good ratio to shoot for. If you are using this solution for sinus rinsing, go for 4 cups of water per tablespoon and be sure to use distilled water for safety!
In summary, when choosing a mouthwash, consider your specific needs and choose products that have simple, natural, and safe ingredients for best results!