Mouthwash of the future

How to formulate a natural and sustainable mouthwash

A mouthwash yesterday and today

A classic mouthwash is focused on removing microbes. The idea behind this is that the less microbes, the less sensitive gums, the less tooth decay, the less infections and the fresher breath. The main ingredient to achieve the microbes’ reduction is the world-famous ethanol. Optionally, the ethanol is enriched with essential oils such as thyme, eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint, or an aroma to reduce the bad breath. You could consider a classic mouthwash as a perfume for the mouth. Ordinary mouthwashes work instantly, but their effect, especially on bad breath, is quickly exhausted.

The ethanol, besides killing microbes, has some other practical advantages:

  • It provides an immediate freshness.
  • It solubilizes the aroma and the essential oils. It keeps the mouthwash nicely transparent.
  • It reduces dramatically the use of preservatives.

A mouthwash of the future

A well-informed consumer of the future no longer accepts ethanol as it has unforgivable disadvantages:

  • It is carcinogenic when used regularly (ECHA)
  • It is not HALAL
  • Besides reducing microbes, ethanol also damages the protective oral microbiota. Ethanol is not selective and does not distinguish between harmful and protective microorganisms.

The consumer is more informed about the protective microbiota. Indeed, the oral microbiota (700 species) protects us against diseases, tooth decay, sensitive gums, and bad breath in two ways:

  1. The oral microbiota members inhabit the complete mouth surface, not a single µm2 is left available for pathogens to colonize our mouth.
  2. All the oral microbiota members keep each other in tune. If one of the members starts to overgrow (like cariogenic bacteria and plaque forming bacteria) then, the other members and especially Streptococcus salivarius reduces the growth of the rebellious bacteria.

In other words, the oral microbiota can only prevent and repair problems when it is complete and balanced. Ethanol is not selective and is equally disturbing in both aspects.

The mouth wash of the future, rather than killing all microbes, should support the protective ones and should reduce the problem of the microbes only. The mouthwash of the future, instead of killing all microbes, should support the protective ones and limit only the problematic ones.

An ideal mouthwash has therefore the following characteristics:

  • Sustainable and natural
  • Alcohol free
  • Microbiota friendly
  • Long-term reduction of bad breath
  • Reducing plaque formation and caries
  • Strengthening gums
  • Formulated with minimal ingredients
  • Pleasant in use

Formulation advice

  1. Dissolve in water minimum 1% fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) combined with Inulin to strengthen the oral microbiota and to reduce bad breath intensively, to reduce plaque, caries, and sensitive gums. FOS and inulin need to be free from cariogenic impurities such as fructose. A molecular weight between 500-900Da is mandatory. FOS/Inulin with a lower molecular weight is cariogenic. A higher molecular weight is too complex to be fermented by the oral microbiota. The FOS/Inulin need to be free from Enterobacteria.
  2. The use of a sweetener has become unnecessary, as the above-described FOS/Inulin has a delicate sweetening power. In case an extra sweetener is needed erythritol is the preferred choice.
  3. An aroma/essential oil is combined with food approved and natural solubilizers/surfactants such as Polyglyceryl-10 laurate or Lauryl glucoside. These solubilizers have a mild bitter taste that is easily masked by the combination of FOS/Inulin/sweetener/aroma.
  4. As microbiota friendly preservative 0.1-0.2% of Polylysine can be used.
  5. Natural menthol is advised to provide the immediate freshness sensation. The menthol needs to be mixed with the solubilizer and aroma.
  6. Optionally add sorbitol or glycerine to improve the mouth feel. These ingredients also help to protect the mouth wash from freezing.
  7. The pH needs to be adjusted to 6.5-7.5 with NaOH.
  8. Of course, no alcohol is added to the mouthwash.


Raw material INCI %
A Water Aqua QS
preBIULIN ORAL (1) Fructooligosaccharide, Glycerin, Aqua, Inulin 3.3
Polylysine (2) Polylysine 0.15
Sorbitol 70 Sorbitol, Aqua 3.5
B Ryoto L7-D (3) Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate 0.8
Plantacare 1200 UP (4) Aqua, Lauryl glucoside 1.5
Menthol Natural Menthol 0.1
Aroma Aroma 0.1
C NaOH Sodium hydroxide QS


Mix phase A

Mix phase B

Add A to B. Add the first 10% of phase A slowly. The rest can be added at a normal speed.

Neutralize with C to pH 6.5-7.5.


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