Mouth-rinse: Hydrosols and Xylitol

In conjunction with a toothpaste I made to help treat gum inflammation, it seemed wise to concoct a soothing mouth-rinse that could be used to:

  • Clear any residual baking soda from the mouth.
  • Address bleeding gums (post brushing & flossing).
  • Freshen breath.

For this, it seemed a gentle, cooling effect would be best, which is where hydrosols come into play. Which leads to a quick explanation of what a hydrosol (i.e., hydrolate, hydrolat, floral water) is from the highly regarded Suzanne Catty (in aromatherapy terms):

“Hydrosols are the condensate water coproduced during the steam-or hydro-distillation of plant material for aromatherapeutic purposes.”

Ingredients for a gentle, yet effective, mouth-rinse.
Ingredients for a gentle, yet effective, mouth-rinse.

Truth-be-told, I have used the Listerine brand  for years–mostly out of learned behavior and co-habiting: my father used Listerine and my husband does. [To be clear: I am not knocking the brand nor asking anyone not to use it–the point of this post is to share how incredibly simple alternatives exist using plant medicine and aromatherapy for oral care.]

Following is the formula for the mouth-rinse (for an 8 ounce bottle):

  • Peppermint hydrosol (Mentha x piperita) (1/2 cup):
    • Anti-inflammatory and a mild antibacterial agent.
    • Note: AVOID using with children less than 3 years of age.
  • Rock Rose hydrosol (Cistus ladaniferus) (1/4 cup):
    • Astringent (stops bleeding) and cicatrisant (healing/scar tissue).
  • Witch Hazel hydrosol (Hamamelis virginiana) (1/4 cup):
    • Astringent, anti-inflammatory, cicatrisant and antiseptic.
  • Everlasting hydrosol (Helichrysum italicum) (1 tablespoon):
    • Ani-inflammatory, cicatrisant and a mild analgesic.
  • Xylitol (1 tablespoon):
    • Xylitol counteracts the production of bacteria-loving, decaying acid through a neutralizing effect–it is essentially a plant-based neutralizer.
Happy rinsing!

Notes:

  • Take a mouthful (e.g., 1 tablespoon) of the rinse and swish around the mouth for 60 seconds. Spit out. Although the mixture is non-toxic, it is wise to spit out and not swallow–the goal is to rid any lingering bacteria from the body.
  • The end product is NOT shelf-stable. Hydrosols are still WATER and can spoil/”bloom”:
    • Keep the mixture in the fridge if you do not intend to use the mixture within a few days. (Or always keep the mixture in the fridge to enhance the cooling sensation.)
  • I chose a sterilized 8 ounce bottle because I have them on-hand–go ahead and use any glass bottle (avoid plastic if you can…). Just be sure you can put a cap on the delivery device to reduce oxidation, evaporation and contamination of the mixture.
  • Keep xylitol away from pets, especially dogs. Keep away from children aged 3 and under.

Toothpaste: Baking Soda, Coconut Oil, Xylitol and Essential Oils

I had a routine dental check-up in late July of 2015 and received bad news–bleeding gums on my lower-right gum-line. As you can imagine this was depressing news. Granted I don’t floss as much as I should. Though I do gargle and brush, twice daily, with national brands of mouthwash and toothpaste. Obviously something had to change, like the products I was using.

Over the years the benefits of nut & seed oils (e.g.,  for oil pulling), baking soda and xylitol have been known but I didn’t pay attention–it was definitely more convenient to go to a store and give a large corporation my money in exchange for oral care I trusted.  So I started reading about these ingredients online, in books and in magazines/journals. With all of the knowledge I was gaining I had to question–why not make my own toothpaste? And why not enhance that toothpaste with essential oils that are known for oral care?

After two weeks of using my homemade toothpaste (and mouth rinse) my gums do not bleed when I floss. Following is the formula for the toothpaste:

  • 2 parts baking soda (e.g., 2 tablespoons): Neutralizing, mild abrasive that will not ruin tooth enamel
  • 2 parts coconut oil (e.g., 2 tablespoons):
    • According to a post (about oil pulling with coconut oil) on Web MD: “Most microorganisms inhabiting the mouth consist of a single cell…Cells are covered with a lipid, or fatty, membrane, which is the cell’s skin. When these cells come into contact with oil, a fat, they naturally adhere to each other.” In other words: like attracts like.
    • “Coconut oil has…lauric acid, which is well-known for its anti-microbial agents….a recent study found that coconut oil may help prevent tooth decay.”
  • 1 part xylitol (e.g., 1 tablespoon):
    • Xylitol’s molecular structure slows the growth of S. mutans on the tooth surfaces, stops the production of tooth decay-causing acid and neutralizes the pH level in saliva and plaque.” [Source: odha.scholarlab.com]
  • Essential oils known for their wound healing, oral care, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties: (Formulated for 3 ounces @ a 2% dilution rate)
    • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) (20 drops): gum/periodontal disease, gum inflammation, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial
    • Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) (12 drops): antimicrobial and overall dental tonic
    • Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) (8 drops): toothaches, oral bacteria, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial
    • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) (8 drops): analgesic, refreshing/cooling, anti-inflammatory

The supplies used to create a simple yet effective toothpaste to address gum inflammation/bleeding.
The supplies used to create a simple yet effective toothpaste to address gum inflammation/bleeding.

Notes:

  • Always use caution when working with essential oils as they must always* be diluted prior to use–especially oils like clove and peppermint. [*Some oils do not need to be diluted but it is a best practice to always dilute.]
    • Always combine essential oils in a glass or metal bowl as some oils are pungent enough to eat through plastic. If using plastic, as I did here, first add all of the dry ingredients and coconut oil to the container, then add the essential oils and mix thoroughly.
  • The end product is shelf-stable; avoid contaminating the contents of the jar by using a stick (e.g., popsicle, craft, waxing).
  • I chose a 3 ounce jar because it was on-hand–go ahead and purchase empty tubes, smaller jars, larger ones. Just be sure you can put a cap on the delivery device to reduce oxidation, evaporation and contamination of the mixture.
  • Keep xylitol away from pets, especially dogs.

Sources:

Dental Benefits of Xylitol

http://odha.scholarlab.com/drupal/system/files/pdf/ODHA%20Facts%20-%20xylitol.pdf

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/oil-pulling