The mouthwash can be a valid aid for our oral hygiene if carefully chosen based on what it contains, otherwise in the long term it could also cause damage. We discover in this article how the mouthwashes and our suggestions are made for the choice of a valid mouthwash.


After completing the correct cleaning of the teeth through the use of toothpaste and toothbrush and hopefully dental floss, many people generally use a mouthwash to rinse the mouth in order to prevent tooth decay, bad breath, for the bleeding gums or more simply to have a pleasant feeling of freshness in the mouth.

The mouthwash is a generally aqueous solution intended to come into contact with the mucous membrane of the oral cavity, usually after dilution with water. The solution is stirred in the mouth through the movement of the tongue for about a minute avoiding the swallowing of the product and completing with the subsequent expulsion. It must not be swallowed.

But the mouthwash should not be chosen at random! how many of you look at the composition?

How is the mouthwash commercially made?

From the formulation point of view the mouthwash appears as an aqueous solution in which many substances are found dissolved such as oxygenated agents (whiteners), antimicrobials and disinfectants, astringents, sedatives, buffering agents, deodorants, fluorinating, flavoring agents and usually the pH of the mouthwash is neutral. Here’s how mouthwashes are usually made:

  1. if you notice, very often among the mouthwashes on the market, alcohol is the first ingredient (and therefore the one present in greater quantities; es. in Listerine) than a series of other synthetic chemical substances. In January 2009, a report published in the Dental Journal of Australia concluded that there is “sufficient evidence” that “alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to increasing the risk of developing oral cancer”.
  2. oxygenated agents (hydrogen peroxide, sodium perborate, urea peroxide) release oxygen during the agitation of the product in the mouth and therefore have an antimicrobial effect. If used continuously, they can make the gum spongy, blacken the tongue and sensitize exposed root surfaces;
  3. the antimicrobial and disinfectant agents used in mouthwashes, to reduce the bacterial load in the oral cavity, are many more than those of toothpastes. In addition to triclosan, triclocarban and chlorhexidine (or even alexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride and benzethonium chloride), halogens such as iodine and iodophors or florurs. These chemicals are not recommended for prolonged use (over two or three weeks). Regarding fluoride, the US Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports several studies showing that sodium fluoride is linked to cancer, nervous and brain disorders, skeletal muscle toxicity. Dr. Charles Gordon Heyd, Former President of the American Medical Association stated that “Fluoride is a corrosive poison that produces serious effects on a broad spectrum”;
  4. astringents have the beneficial function of toning the tissues but cannot be used for too long because they can induce demineralization of the tooth enamel and irritate the gums. Zinc chloride, zinc acetate, alum, tannic acid, acetic acid and even citric acid are used for this purpose.
  5. the sedatives can soothe the sense of pain, especially in the case of small lesions present on the tissues, and consist mainly of essential oils and phenolic derivatives. In these solutions, intended to be introduced into the oral cavity, it is also important to add pH-buffering substances that allow to restore the physiological pH. Furthermore, they can also reduce the acidity of the oral cavity, bringing the pH to normal, providing relief in case of soft tissue injuries. Sodium borate, sodium perborate and sodium bicarbonate are commonly used for this purpose.
  6. other components are also deodorant agents, which have the task of making the formulation pleasant and neutralizing the odors deriving from decomposing food residues, thus improving the breath.


In dentistry the use of medicinal plants for the treatment of oral or systemic diseases with oral manifestations is still little used. However, even in dentistry, research on natural products has grown significantly in recent years thanks to the greater need for products with less toxicity, greater pharmacological activity and biocompatibility. It has been discovered that many plants have a beneficial effect on the tissues of the oral cavity, with an anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antimicrobial, analgesic, sedative effect and also as an irrigant in endodontics and periodontology, as well as plants that promote tissue healing and contribute to improving halitosis.

From the herbalist tradition: Propolsan, the choice of Erboristeria Como

Propolsan is a natural mouthwash composed of: water, glycerin, aloe barbadensis juice leaves, propolis extract, chamomile matricaria recutita L. flowers, calendula flowers, sylvan mallow leaves, rosemary extract, horsetail, officinal sage leaves, essential oil of mint arvensis. Alcohol is only on the track! Propolsan is indicated against bad breath, for gums (and the prevention of bacterial plaque gingivitis) and to prevent tooth decay, afta.

There are many clinical and experimental evidences that support the use of aloe in dentistry (for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action), from which the beneficial effects emerge on patients suffering from fibrosis of the oral submucosa, aphthous stomatitis, plaque gingivitis, periodontitis. The mucilage, which is found inside the leaves, is well known for the treatment of sunburn, promotes wound healing and has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. The mucilaginous drugs (aloe, extract of mallow leaves) exert a protective action because by stratifying on the buccal mucosa they avoid further damage and facilitate its healing (when the mucosa is inflamed, it is particularly sensitive and therefore hardly tolerates even the most common physiological stimuli ).

Propolis extract is especially recommended for oral infections and mouth ulcers due to its bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antifungal and antiviral activity. Several studies have shown that propolis mouthwashes and dentifrices have an inhibiting action on the growth of gingivitis and periodontitis pathogens and can therefore be used not only as preventive devices but also as therapeutic agents.

Plant extracts of rosemary, horsetail and officinal sage demonstrate anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial activity indicated for gingivitis, aphthous ulcers and stomatitis, inflammation of the oropharyngeal mucosa. In particular, rosemary is a bland antiseptic, sage is the plant-guide against aphosis, horsetail is a re-mineralizing and Vaquelin experiments would seem to suggest how horsetail silica can facilitate the formation of calcium carbonate. Plant extracts of chamomile (1), calendula (2), mallow are antibacterial and soothing anti-inflammatories.

The essential oil of arvensis mint is slightly anesthetic, refreshing and deodorant; in mouthwash reduces gingival inflammation after periodontal treatment.

Glycerin is an antiseptic and an inevitable part of odonto-stomatological galenic formulations for oral mouthwashes: it has a bacteriostatic and bactericidal action inducing dehydration in bacteria; by virtue of its moisturizing, lubricating and emollient properties in relation to the skin, glycerin is used in numerous formulations for dermo-cosmetic use. In the reported wording, not being a single ingredient it does not “dry” what it comes into contact with (as we read in some sites or blogs!): The glycerin does not attract water from the skin because it is enough that contained in the solution of the mouthwash; simply the water and glycerin here are the solvents and in substance the glycerine is nothing but a part (solvent) of one or more functional ingredients whose phytoactive principles have been extracted with a water-glycerine solution (for example our above mentioned plant extracts)).

Dr. Laura Comollo

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