2019 Master List: Mouthwash

In my post, The Quick and Dirty Guide on how to Clean Yourself Up, we covered a lot of no-gos and pitfalls when trying to shop more ethically. Sadly, there’s so much crap to worry about that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and psych yourself out from doing the research.

In the interest of making your life easier, I’ve been coming up with lists of (gender-agnostic) self-care products, in addition to home cleaning products, that you can trust are safe bets for both your health and the planet. You can find all of the 2019 Master Lists here.

For this post, we’re going to be covering mouthwash.

I got into this topic when I offered toothpaste options, but for safety’s sake, I’ll quickly reiterate what fluoride does in dental care, since there are a lot of people out there who are against the use of fluoride (in general, and for dental products).


Author’s Note:

If you don’t know anything about fluoride, you can review this summary, which will gives you a decent intro into what fluoride is and why it’s controversial for some people.

If you read through the last post and/or know the whole story about what fluoride is AND you’re confident that you have the right context to understand the options offered in this post, feel free to skip to the product picks.

What function does fluoride in dental products serve that makes it important?

For a fuller explanation on why fluoride is added to dental care, read this.

Fluoride that’s added to dental care products is designed to help treat and protect tooth enamel, which is the exceptionally hard protective outer layer of our teeth. Over time, enamel is worn down by food (and life in general). If left uncared for, our enamel can completely erode. Unfortunately for us, there’s no way to regrow tooth enamel, which means that once your teeth are made vulnerable from compromised enamel, they’re pretty much stuck that way. Cavities can begin to more easily develop in your teeth that can tear through your softened teeth and get all the way down to the nerve-endings in your jaw.

10/10 do not recommend this experience.

Fluoride in dental care is meant to help protect enamel from eroding. For decades, dentists have attested to its efficacy by pointing to all the studies that show fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, which it does through the process of re-mineralization (source, source). Basically, fluoride hardens our tooth enamel and helps prevents further tooth enamel degradation, but a relatively recent study has also shown that fluoride also protects tooth enamel by making it harder for the bad bacteria to stick to your teeth and start the erosion process.


Should you go with fluoride or fluoride-free dental products?

If, and only if, you’ve done your research and have found reasons to believe that your exposure to fluoride would be uncomfortably high if you were to buy fluoridated dental care products, please consult with your dentist to come up with a plan that will enable you to healthily pursue fluoride-free dental care options. I do not encourage under any circumstance transitioning away from fluoridated toothpaste without at least first consulting a licensed healthcare provider. I also suggest you make sure to take extra steps to naturally protect your tooth enamel, since you will be more at-risk for cavities.

If your current dentist discourages you, or has discouraged you in the past, from making the transition to fluoride-free dental care, it’s okay seek a second professional’s opinion! Please keep in mind, though, that a lot of dentists are just like us, and most of them care about their patients more than pushing an agenda; they may have a medical reason they’re not good at communicating as to why you might not be a great candidate.


Product Picks

Now that we’ve gotten all that context out of the way, let’s actually get into the whole point of all this post!

Please note that, if you use fluoridated toothpaste, it’s considered inadvisable to use non-fluoridated mouthwash, as that’s effectively self-defeating; mouthwash can rinse off the fluoride that you just put on your teeth with the toothpaste. (In fact, it might be more effective to forgo mouthwash altogether to avoid that issue, but if you do want mouthwash, a general tip is to pair fluoride with fluoride.)

By contrast, you might explore the option of skipping a fluoridated toothpaste and use only a fluoridated mouthwash, although I can’t speak to the efficacy of this practice and have no guarantees it’s sufficient for good oral hygiene. If it sounds interesting, though, it may be worth discussing with your qualified oral health practitioner!

As before, the below products meet the following criteria:

  • cruelty-free: no animal testing has been done for the product to reach market, and no animal-derived ingredients are included if the harvesting process can cause harm to the animal (e.g., lanolin harvesting).
  • environmentally responsible: the ingredients listed on the label are of nonexistent or relatively low risk to the environment.
  • non-hazardous: the phrase “non-toxic” isn’t a regulated phrase, so we’re sticking with “non-hazardous” to keep a safe distance from meaningless marketing terminology. In this case, you should take “non-hazardous” to mean that the product, when used as intended (don’t drink it or bathe in it if the label doesn’t tell you to do so), poses overall less risk of experiencing negative side effects associated with exposure to various chemical compounds.
  • consistent results: the product delivers comparable results to conventional products, and works the way you want it to work significantly more often than it does not.

Author’s Note

As usual, this list isn’t sponsored in any way. The products listed below are products that come from brands with which I have experience (direct or indirect, through friends and family) or into which I personally have done extensive research.

Fluoride


Tom’s of Maine Whole Care

$5.99 for 16oz ($0.38/oz)

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, PETA certified
  • Alcohol-free
  • Some products are ADA certified (Children’s Anticavity Fluoride Rinse)
  • Works with TerraCycle to help consumers recycle their products after use
  • Comes in a few flavor options
  • Free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) — an ingredient which,although considered safe, can cause irritation and/or dryness for some people (the latter of which is counterproductive to protecting against enamel erosion)

Cons

  • Although certified as cruelty-free, Tom’s of Maine’s parent company is Colgate-Palmolive, which is a company that tests on animals and is not cruelty-free
  • All products contain (vegetable) glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Not all products are ADA certified
  • Flavors contain ostensibly natural “Natural Flavor” as an ingredient, which can be comprised of any number of undisclosed compounds
  • The children’s flavors appear to have acidic juices for added flavoring
  • There’s a waitlist to join the TerraCycle program, so participating drop-off locations may be your only way to recycle the containers
  • Fluoride mouthwashes are not readily available in all stores or locations
  • One (children’s) flavor appears to have been discontinued, despite being listed on the Tom’s of Maine website
  • Prices are somewhat inconsistent, and vary according to retailer and flavor (though sometimes bundling options are available)

Tom’s of Maine Children’s (Alcohol-Free) Anticavity Mouthwash

Juicy Mint
(ADA certifed)

Note: it appears as if this has been discontinued

The Natural Dentist Rinse

$6.86 for 16.9oz ($0.41/oz)

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • American Dental Association (ADA) approved
  • Alcohol-free
  • Free of artificial flavors and colors
  • Free of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) — an ingredient which,although considered safe, can cause irritation and/or dryness for some people (the latter of which is counterproductive to protecting against enamel erosion)

Cons

  • Not certified cruelty-free
  • Contains vegetable glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Contains Polysorbate 80
  • Contains “Natural Flavors,” which can contain any number of undisclosed compounds
  • Contains Grapefruit Seed Extract


Hello Oral Care Anticavity Rinse

$20.49 for 48oz ($0.43/oz)

Pros

Cons

  • Contains Poloxamer 407, which has been shown in some studies to elevate cholesterol
  • Contains “flavor”, which is likely artificial and can be comprised of any number of undisclosed chemical compounds

Fluoride-Free


Georganics Mouthwash Tablets

price varies by purchase location

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, PETA certified
  • Palm-free, since it does not contain glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Packaging is fantastic: these tablets are stored in glass bottles, and come in recycled paper boxes
  • Minimal post-consumer waste, as glass is reusable and can be repurposed
  • Ideal solution if you’re trying to live a zero- or low-waste lifestyle

Cons

  • Pricing is potentially quite costly if buying for more than one person in a home
  • Limited flavor options
  • Both flavors aren’t equally easily available
  • Tablets don’t make use of organic ingredients where applicable


by Humankind Mouthwash Tablets

$9.95 for 60 tablets ($0.17/tablet) (1 month supply)

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, PETA certified
  • Palm-free, since it does not contain glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Minimal post-consumer waste, as the packaging is reusable and guaranteed for life
  • Ideal solution if you’re trying to live a zero- or low-waste lifestyle

Cons

  • Limited quantity of mouthwash tablets means you will either have to either buy several packages at once, or get a monthly subscription
  • Subscription service doesn’t offer any pricing discount on the product
  • Pricing is very high, especially when compared to Georganics
  • Tablets don’t make use of organic ingredients where applicable


JĀSÖN Mouthwashes

price varies by product and purchase location

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified
  • No artificial flavors or colorants
  • No sulfates
  • Some products are available through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Cons

  • Not all ingredients are organic (where applicable)
  • Comes in plastic
  • Not all options are readily and/or consistently available in stores
  • Without coupons or Subscribe & Save, some of these options feel somewhat expensive for the volume (especially if using for a whole house)


Dr. Brite Mouthwashes

price varies by product

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free, Leaping Bunny certified
  • Uses many organic and Non-GMO ingredients
  • No artificial flavors or colorants
  • Available through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Cons

  • Comes in plastic
  • All products contain (vegetable) glycerin, which is often a palm derivative
  • Even with coupons or Subscribe & Save, these can get pretty expensive (especially if using for a whole house)

Dr. Brite Coco Chai Mouthwash

$14.99 for 16oz ($0.94/oz)
$12.74 with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

Dr. Brite Mint Whitening Mouthwash

$14.99 for 16oz ($0.94/oz)
$12.74 with 15% off through Amazon Subscribe & Save

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