Gargle with these Natural Ingredients for Optimal Oral Health
Written by Amanda Williams, MPH
With so many oral health products on the market, it may be challenging to choose a mouthwash that has both internal and external benefits – allowing you to flaunt your pearly whites, while being assured your mouth is as clean as it can be. But what ingredients should the products you clean your mouth with contain and not contain?
You should incorporate a natural alcohol-free mouthwash as part of your daily oral care. Why alcohol free you ask? Multiple studies have shown a potential link between alcohol-containing mouthwashes and an increase risk of oral cancers. Whether that risk is low or high, it is enough for most in the health field to seek alternative sources for mouthwash ingredients. Let's look at some key nutrients to optimize your oral health.
Green tea has been widely consumed around the world for centuries and has been studied extensively for a multitude of health benefits. In terms of oral health, green tea has been shown to inhibit the acid produced by bacteria that cause cavities in our teeth. Researchers have also studied the benefits of green tea in mouthwash for targeting bad breath, gingivitis, and reduction of plaque. Even more impressive is the research showing the protective effect green tea may provide against influenza. A recent study collected data from multiple studies showing that the participants who gargled with tea or its ingredients showed a lower risk of influenza infection than did participants who gargled with placebo/water or who did not gargle.
Chamomile is one of the oldest and most well documented herbs used in medicine. The flowers of the plant are what provide the healing properties. A comprehensive review of the many benefits of chamomile were assessed at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. They stated the following, “Chamomile is widely used to treat inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes, and for various bacterial infections of the skin, oral cavity and gums, and respiratory tract.“ Many of us have heard of sipping on chamomile tea to support our mood and enhance relaxation. Interestingly, this same flower extract, when used in a mouthwash, eases inflammation and supports healthy gums.
Witch Hazel is an herb long used in the holistic world for a multitude of health concerns. The most common way Witch Hazel is used is as an astringent and potent antioxidant for topical use on the skin. But it is also a wonderful addition to oral care formulas, as it enhances the health of the mucous membranes of our mouths. In terms of clinical relevance, witch hazel was shown in a clinical study to have a positive impact on the reduction of plaque buildup.
Mentha Viridis, also known as spearmint, is another great herb to support a healthy mouth. The thin leaves of this plant and wonderful aroma make it a common herb in the culinary world. It has a mild taste that is not cooling like peppermint. Spearmint is comprised of a high quanity of essential oils, as well as tannins and flavonoids. It contains both refreshing and toning properties. It is the blend of the oils in the leaves that provide the benefit to our gums and teeth. As a matter of fact, spearmint has been studied for its ability to teaget harmful bacteria in the oral cavity. It is the overabundance of “bad”bacteria that can create an environment leading to bad breath, plaque build-up and cavities.
Aloe Leaf Juice
Aloe Leaf Juice is another natural way to enhance the health of our mouths. Aloe vera has long been used as a medicinal plant for a variety of health issues and, just like the many other herbs already discussed, Aloe has also been shown to have a positive impact on our teeth and gums. When compared to a common chemical chlorhexidine found in most mouthwashes, Aloe vera reduced gingival plaque and bleeding gums, as well as chlorhexidine.
There are many natural options when it comes to keeping our mouths clean and refreshed. The next time you are trying to decide what to rinse and gargle with, choose a nice blend of herbs that will optimize your oral health. And remember to stay clear of mouthwashes that can leave the mouth feeling dry and potentially coated with harmful chemicals. It is always a better option to use what nature already provides us than synthetic chemicals.
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