Natural & Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

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Our much loved, artificially coloured and flavored products like Listerine and Colgate Plax, don’t serve much purpose other than fresh breath. The alcohol present in them increases the risk of oral cancer. Not to mention that the dental benefits of fluoride may outweigh the dangers and possible side effects due to its toxicity, especially for children. But never fear, for natural mouthwash is near!

The Fluoride Debate

Children are most at risk of developing dental fluorosis – a condition caused by over-exposure to fluoride that can cause crumbling of the enamel and permanent damage to teeth during the tooth forming years (0-8 years old). Did you also know that:

“A single tube of bubble-gum flavored Colgate-for-Kids toothpaste contains enough fluoride (143 mg) to kill a child weighing less than 30 kg.”(Whitford 1987a)

However, this doesn’t mean that fluoride is all bad. Fluoride’s dental benefits are well-established, but I do think that exposure should be limited. If you are drinking municipal water, it is most likely fluoridated, so you are already getting a good dose of fluoride from your water. Foods also contain fluoride. Therefore, you may want to use a fluoride-free toothpaste as a way of limiting your daily dosage. However, if you are drinking rain or bore-hole water (which doesn’t contain fluoride), then you might need a little fluoride in your toothpaste to prevent cavities. There is much debate around fluoride, so this is a decision that you have to make after researching the pros and cons and by speaking to your dentist.

My natural mouthwash recipe contains ingredients that are beneficial for oral care. I have included a safe dosage of fluoride in the form of the homeopathic tissue salt, Calc Fluor (which is safe enough to consume – not that you will be drinking the mouthwash though). This tissue salt (also known as calcium fluoride) is said to help strengthen tooth enamel, because it is found on the surface of our teeth and bones. All the ingredients are readily found at your local pharmacy.


Cost price: R14.43 per 250ml.
Lasted me about:
 1 month (using 3 times per week)
Estimated shelf life: 1 month (stored in an airtight container away from direct sunlight). You must use distilled water for this shelf-life.

*Costs accurate at the time of writing, and costs based on the best retail prices I’ve found.


Tastes nothing like Listerine, which takes some getting used to. I like to make mine very sweet with a tablespoon of liquid stevia – this makes it quite pleasant to swoosh around.


Alcohol-free mixture means there’s no increased risk of oral cancer.


  • Distilled water: The purest form of water which has the longest shelf-life, and which contains no minerals or salt deposits. You can find distilled water at most pharmacies. Please don’t confuse this with bottled/ filtered/ purified water, it is different. (buy here)
  • Real/ Himalayan salt (i.e. Not iodated table salt):  Natural disinfectant, rich in minerals & trace elements which benefit gums & teeth, whitens teeth (buy here).
  • Calc Phos (tissue salt no.2): Supports strong healthy bones and teeth (buy here).
  • Calc Fluor (tissue salt no.1): Strengthens tooth enamel and prevents cavities (buy here).
  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV): Whitens teeth, and the Potassium & Calcuim in ACV strengthen teeth (but it must be well-diluted so that it doesn’t erode tooth enamel). Unfiltered, unprocessed ACV is cloudy and has a substance floating in it – this is the best quality to use (buy here). If you can’t afford to buy the good stuff, then make your own raw ACV at home. Here’s my homemade ACV recipe.
  • Xylitol: Natural sweetener known to have dental benefits which include the prevention of cavities.  It is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in most plant material (buy here).
  • Stevia: Natural sweetener. It is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical America, whose leaves may be used as a calorie-free substitute for sugar (buy here).
  • Peppermint / Spearmint EO: Antiseptic properties help eliminate bad breath and fight off germs, it can also provide relief from toothache and helps treat indigestion. It is also a great, natural flavoring agent in toothpaste (buy here).

Not sure where to find these, or other ingredients? My shopping guide may help you. Are you new to essential oils? Please read how to use them safely.

Whitford GM. (1987a). Fluoride in dental products: safety considerations. Journal of Dental Research 66: 1056-60

What natural mouthwash have you tried before?

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