Homemade Mouthwash   Leave a comment

Mouthwash is one of the easiest products to make at home, saving money, raw materials, fuel, and water in the process. I’ve had dentists and dental hygenists tell me that using mouthwash is one of the most important things that you can do for your mouth. I absolutely believe them just based on my own observations of dental health when I use vs. don’t use some type of mouthwash. I’ve also had those same dentists and hygenists tell me that in order to be effective, mouthwash needs one ingredient: warm water. Extra stuff like salt or antibacterial agents are just bonus points. Apparently what makes rinsing with a mouthwash effective is really the physical swooshing action in the mouth, flushing the crevasses of the mouth out with water and dislodging anything left behind by brushing and flossing.

That being said, I like going for bonus points. For me it is peppermint oil for the anti-microbial properties. I think I started making my own mouthwash about a decade ago, although it’s been so long I really don’t remember. At first I just mixed up my batch in the small store-bought mouthwash bottle that I had just finished. That worked until the empty bottle got tipped into the garbage by accident. So I cleaned out a 200 mL vinegar bottle and started using the measuring cup from an old bottle of medicine. For the 200 mL bottle I used 1 or 2 drops of peppermint oil. Eventually I got tired of having to refill my mouthwash almost every weekend and went in search of a larger bottle. So now I’m using the 750 mL bottle from an Isle of Jura single-malt Scotch. The bottle is very elegant; the little plastic medicine measuring cup perched on top not so much. Oh well. The 750 mL bottle uses 3 or 4 drops of peppermint oil. Note that this is a great example that essential oils don’t scale linearly. In some cases it doesn’t matter, but peppermint oil should never be used directly on skin. It always needs to be diluted. When I started using the larger bottle I started with 3 drops, which was fine; then I tried 4 drops, and that was fine; then I tried 5 drops, and my mouth cried uncle. Start small and work your way up, don’t risk irritation or other problems.

The original driver for me to make my own mouthwash was the alcohol. I was constantly battling swollen gums, and I was afraid that the alcohol in store-bought mouthwash was making the problem worse. Since it’s been so long I don’t remember if ditching the alcohol made a difference. Recently, though, I started adding 20 drops of tincture of myrrh for gum health. (I tried 30 drops once and since at that concentration I could taste the alcohol of the tincture, I decided that was too much.) It’s hard to say if it has made a difference since we’re talking about small changes to something that is subjectively measured and constantly fluctuating. Anyway, I’ve been doing that for a while with no problems. Then a couple months ago I noticed some biofilm on the bottom of the bottle, which I had never noticed before. So I cleaned the bottle and made a fresh batch, and had the same problem. This time I cleaned the bottle and then refilled it with water and peppermint oil only. I’ll do some trial and error to figure out the problem, and my first thought is that it is the myrrh (after all I’ve never had this problem before in almost a decade of homemade mouthwash). I might also see if I can find abstracts/articles about the efficacy of myrrh for gum health, because if it doesn’t really matter why continue to use it?

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Posted February 9, 2011 by mayakey in frugal living, personal care

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