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Freshen Your Breath The Natural Way

We take Red Seal's new natural mouthwash for a test-drive

I’ve never had much luck using mouthwash. Although I’ve always liked the idea of making my breath as fresh as possible, adding a gargle or rinse to my post-tooth brushing routine has never really stuck. Possibly this is because the only time I tried one, the flavour was so potent it lingered all morning — to the point where my morning coffee tasted as though someone had added antiseptic to the grounds. And as a strict twice-daily tooth-brusher, I’d always questioned whether using mouthwash was a necessary step.

But with face-mask wearing now a part of my daily commute — the air trapped within it providing a not-so-gentle reminder that perhaps my toothbrushing routine needed a little helping hand —– the thought of trying mouthwash again made sense. Particularly when Red Seal revealed it had a new natural mouthwash on the market.

Red Seal has long been a proponent of natural ingredients, offering a range of teas and oral care products, along with UMF honey and blackstrap molasses. Founded in 1923, the New Zealand brand goes by the principle, ‘if you put incredible in, you get incredible out”. Turns out nature has a solution for bad breath, too.

Red Seal’s new natural mouthwash comes in two flavours, so on Monday I tried the Thyme Extract variety, which, like the Propolis product in the range, kills 99 per cent of germs — as it’s the bacteria left behind by undigested food that leads to bad breath.

The thyme mouthwash has a mandarin and eucalyptol flavour that nicely balanced out the peppermint aftertaste from my toothpaste with an uplifting dash of citrus.

Thyme extract is known for its antibacterial properties and has been used in herbal medicine to support oral health. The flavour compounds are just as beneficial for breath freshening; both eucalyptus and menthol in combination with the thyme to effectively kill oral germs. Which is where the benefits of taking that extra step can be noticeable.

“If bacteria is allowed to build up in your mouth, it causes plaque build-up on your teeth which is one of the main causes of cavities and tooth decay,” explains Red Seal naturopath Michelle Irving. “Tooth-brushing doesn’t get to all the nooks and crannies in our mouth, which is where a mouthwash comes in.”

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Maintaining fresh breath isn’t just a social necessity — it’s an important indication of our oral health, which is fundamental to our overall wellbeing and quality of life, says Michelle. A healthy mouth enables us to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment.
“If not maintained, it can get fairly expensive repairing the damage, not to mention painful,” she adds. “It can also be a pre-cursor to other oral health issues.”

Compared with my experience of using my old astringent mouthwash, it was pleasing to know the Red Seal product didn’t contain alcohol, which always seemed a little discomfiting to be putting in my mouth first thing in the morning. Alcohol also acts as a drying agent, inhibiting saliva production; having a dry mouth is the ideal environment for odour-causing bacteria to flourish.

“This happens while you sleep,” says Michelle, “which is why most people find their breath to be a bit stinky in the morning.”

Red Seal has also kept its range as close to nature as possible, keeping the mouthwash free from ingredients such as cetylpyridinium chloride, hexetidine and methyl salicylate.

As I bussed to work with my trusty face mask on, I definitely noticed my breath smelt fresh, and that freshness extended for several hours. I almost wished I’d stashed the mouthwash in my handbag for a discreet post-lunch swirl.

Michelle says there are little things we can do to improve the freshness of our breath, even if we’re hours away from our usual dental hygiene practices. Naturally, watching what we eat and drink plays a part.

“If we are consuming sugary foods and drinks all day — cakes, chocolate, dried fruit, plus coffee and tea — I always recommend at the minimum to swish some water around your mouth after eating something, in between teeth brushing and mouthwash times, to reduce the acidity in your mouth.”

On Friday evening, I decided to try the second Red Seal mouthwash flavour as I prepped for a night out. A friend was having drinks in town, so after a light dinner, I brushed my teeth, as I often do before socialising (because as delicious as my smoked fish pie smelt at the time I ate it, no one wants to pick up that scent while they’re leaning in to chat in a noisy bar). This time I tried the Red Seal Propolis mouthwash which comes in a clove and mint flavour.

Propolis is another natural ingredient that has antibacterial properties and has been used in folk medicine for centuries — and originally by bees to protect their hives.

The refreshing spiced flavour in this one gave me a little extra confidence as I headed off in my Uber, again with my face mask duly reminding me of my efforts. And although natural mouthwash can’t do much for a hangover, it definitely helped to freshen my mood the next morning.

Discover more about Red Seal mouthwash now, and experience it for yourself — it's available at Countown, selected New Worlds and pharmacies.

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New Zealand Herald

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