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The Ingredients And Health Risks Of Mouthwash



Mouthwash, a chemotherapeutic treatment, is used as a part of your home dental hygiene process. Mouthwash has come a long way since its precursors back in 2700 BC; the scientific development of chlorhexidine in the 1960s was the starting point for the basis of modern mouthwashes. Since this breakthrough, commercial interest in mouthwash has been high; many companies have sought to improve upon the efficacy of this development or at least claimed to have improved upon it.

In addition to fighting plaque which is what chlorhexidine does, mouthwashes these days claim to be good at reducing the swelling associated with gingivitis and improving bad breath (aka halitosis). Also, many of these new-fangled mouthwashes claim to be able to tackle the Volatile Sulphur Compound (VSC)-creating anaerobic bacteria that live in the mouth and are responsible for bad breath and bad tastes there.

How to Use

Mouthwash usage usually follows the form of rinsing and gargling 20ml to 30ml of solution twice a day straight after brushing. Manufacturers tend to recommend that you do this for about 30 seconds, then spit the ‘used’ mouthwash. Some mouthwash products stain the expectorate (posh word for spit) so you can see what the mouthwash is cleaning from your mouth. I’m not sure if this provides any actual benefits but it sure is satisfying to see the crap in the sink that is no longer in your mouth.

Some argue that you should wait at least an hour before using mouthwash as some of the active ingredients in toothpaste (anionic compounds in Sodium Lauryl Sulphate toothpaste for example) can neutralize the active ingredients in mouthwash. However, others disagree, as many types of mouthwash contain this ingredient (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate) anyway.

Dangerous Ingredients?

All mouthwashes have slightly different compositions, however, there are some ingredients that are present across many different brands. A common ingredient in mouthwash is alcohol. Alcohol in mouthwash is not used to kill unwanted germs and bacteria as one might expect, but rather as a carrier agent to help deliver the active ingredients and help the efficacy in reducing plaque.

It also there to give ‘bite’ to the mouthwash- something that makes the consumer ‘feel’ as though the product is working well. However, there have been recent studies that have linked alcohol-based mouthwashes with an increased risk of cancer. It has been suggested that alcohol makes the mouth’s cells more susceptible to cancer-causing agents such as acetaldehyde. Some mouthwashes have up to 26% alcohol content- more than double that of wine!

If you are interested in refreshing your mouth and are put off by the dangers of strong mouth products, then check out Progressive Dentistry, for all your cosmetic dentistry needs.