True Cellular Formulas Team - November 22, 2023

Rethinking Mouthwash

Protecting Your Oral Microbiome


The quest for dental health often leads us to a combination of brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. However, emerging research suggests that mouthwash may not be as beneficial as we think, especially concerning the oral microbiome. In this blog, we will explore the potential risks associated with mouthwash use and consider natural alternatives for maintaining oral health. Join us in understanding how to care for our oral ecosystem in a way that promotes overall well-being.

Understanding the Oral Microbiome

The oral microbiome is a complex and dynamic community of microorganisms that reside in our mouth. It's a fundamental part of our oral ecosystem, playing a critical role in our overall health. This microbiome, made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa, works tirelessly to protect our mouth from invaders and maintain a healthy environment.[1,2]

A balanced oral microbiome is crucial for preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. It even influences the health of our digestive and respiratory systems.[1,3] The mouth serves as the gateway to our body, making the health of the oral microbiome a critical component of our overall well-being.

However, this delicate balance can be easily disrupted. Factors such as diet, oral hygiene habits, and even the products we use for mouth care, like mouthwash, can significantly impact this microbial community.[2] Understanding the intricate relationship between our oral health practices and the microbiome is key to maintaining a healthy mouth and body.

The Potential Dangers of Mouthwash

While mouthwash is often marketed as a crucial step in oral hygiene, its impact on the oral microbiome can be concerning. The primary issue with many types of mouthwash is their broad-spectrum antibacterial properties.[2] These formulations don't just target harmful bacteria; they can also disrupt beneficial microbes essential for a healthy mouth.

One of the most common ingredients in mouthwash is alcohol, which is known for its strong antibacterial properties. However, alcohol-based mouthwashes can lead to dry mouth, a condition that reduces saliva production. Saliva is vital for neutralizing acids and helping to repair tooth enamel.[4]

Another ingredient of concern is chlorhexidine[2]. While effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis, chlorhexidine has been linked to alterations in taste perception and can stain teeth with prolonged use. More alarmingly, some studies have suggested a correlation between frequent mouthwash use and an increased risk of oral cancer.[5]

Moreover, disrupting the oral microbiome with harsh chemicals can have broader implications. For example, a study found that using mouthwash twice daily was associated with an increased risk of developing hypertension, potentially due to the elimination of beneficial bacteria involved in blood pressure regulation.[6]

These findings suggest that while mouthwash might offer short-term pros, its long-term use could potentially harm our oral and overall health. It raises the question: are there safer, more natural ways to maintain oral hygiene?

Healthy Alternatives to Mouthwash

Recognizing the potential risks associated with conventional mouthwash, it's important to explore natural alternatives that support the health of the oral microbiome. Here are some effective and holistic options:

  • Saltwater Rinse: A simple saltwater rinse can be a gentle and effective way to cleanse the mouth. It helps to neutralize mouth pH and can reduce inflammation and bacteria, making it a great option for post-dental procedures or infections.
  • Oil Pulling: An ancient practice that involves swishing oil, typically coconut or sesame oil, in the mouth for several minutes. Oil pulling is believed to pull toxins from the oral cavity, reduce plaque, and promote gum health.
  • Herbal Mouth Rinses: Natural ingredients like aloe vera, tea tree oil, or clove can be used to create homemade mouth rinses. These ingredients have natural antibacterial and soothing properties, making them beneficial for oral health without the harsh effects of chemicals.[7]
  • Probiotic Lozenges: Probiotics are beneficial for gut health, but specific strains can also promote a healthy oral microbiome.[8] Probiotic lozenges can help in rebalancing oral bacteria, especially after a course of antibiotics.
  • Green Tea Rinse: Green tea has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. A green tea mouth rinse can help in reducing plaque and gingivitis, and it's rich in antioxidants.
  • Hydration and Diet: Lastly, maintaining good hydration and a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber can significantly impact oral health.[9] These natural approaches not only support the oral microbiome but also enhance overall health.

By integrating these natural alternatives into your oral care routine, you can support your oral microbiome while minimizing the risks associated with traditional mouthwash products.


While traditional mouthwash has its benefits, it may also pose risks to the oral microbiome and overall health. We've highlighted natural alternatives like saltwater rinses, oil pulling, and herbal rinses that support oral health without the harsh effects of chemicals. Embracing these methods, along with a balanced diet and proper hydration, can lead to better oral and general health. We encourage readers to explore these options and consult with dental professionals to find the best care approach for their needs.

  1. Deo, Priya Nimish, and Revati Deshmukh. “Oral microbiome: Unveiling the fundamentals.” Journal of oral and maxillofacial pathology : JOMFP vol. 23,1 (2019): 122-128. doi:10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_304_18
  2. Brookes, Zoë, et al. “Mouthwash Effects on the Oral Microbiome: Are They Good, Bad, or Balanced?” International Dental Journal, 2023, doi:10.1016/j.identj.2023.08.010. 
  3. Pathak, Janak L., et al. “The Role of Oral Microbiome in Respiratory Health and Diseases.” Respiratory Medicine, vol. 185, 2021, p. 106475, doi:10.1016/j.rmed.2021.106475. 
  4. Buzalaf, Marília Afonso Rabelo et al. “Saliva and dental erosion.” Journal of applied oral science : revista FOB vol. 20,5 (2012): 493-502. doi:10.1590/s1678-77572012000500001
  5. Ustrell-Borràs, M et al. “Alcohol-based mouthwash as a risk factor of oral cancer: A systematic review.” Medicina oral, patologia oral y cirugia bucal vol. 25,1 e1-e12. 1 Jan. 2020, doi:10.4317/medoral.23085
  6. Joshipura, Kaumudi et al. “Over-the-counter mouthwash use, nitric oxide and hypertension risk.” Blood pressure vol. 29,2 (2020): 103-112. doi:10.1080/08037051.2019.1680270
  7. Kamath, N P et al. “The effect of aloe vera and tea tree oil mouthwashes on the oral health of school children.” European archives of paediatric dentistry : official journal of the European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry vol. 21,1 (2020): 61-66. doi:10.1007/s40368-019-00445-5
  8. Haukioja, Anna. “Probiotics and oral health.” European journal of dentistry vol. 4,3 (2010): 348-55.
  9. Scardina, G A, and P Messina. “Good oral health and diet.” Journal of biomedicine & biotechnology vol. 2012 (2012): 720692. doi:10.1155/2012/720692