CF warns against potential mouthwash dangers
By Ann Yu,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Although commonly thought to aid oral hygiene, the Consumer's Foundation (CF) said yesterday that mouthwashes contain certain substances that may be harmful to dental health.
March 13, 2013, 12:15 am TWN
According to the CF, major substances added to mouthwashes, such as triclosan, chlorhexidine and chloride, are harmful to a person's health if used excessively.
The CF collected 15 brands of mouthwash from retail stores, grocery shops and wholesalers to understand what substances each product contained and how the ingredients were labeled on the containers.
Since Taiwan does not have a government-issued ingredient standard for mouthwash, inspection results were compared to the national standard for toothpastes, the CF noted.
CF Secretary-General Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said, “Consumers should take into consideration the substances used in the mouthwash they buy. The Department of Health should also conduct thorough research on the mouthwashes sold in the market and develop a criteria for mouthwash fluids.”
A dentist from the National Defense Medical Center Fu Eh (傅鍔) noted that people should not consider mouthwash a treatment for gingivitis.
In the 15 samples bought by the CF, Lei said some mouthwashes did not contain the anti-bacterial ingredients that they claim to have. Using the widely known Listerine brand (natural citrus flavor) as an example, test results revealed that the mouthwash contained mainly thyme oil, menthol oil, and holly oil, Lei said, “It's up to consumers to decide. Do we want those kind of ingredients in our body?”
Fu added: “Some consumers just want fresh breath, while some are looking to kill off bacteria. It depends on what you want. Nonetheless, that's why consumers should look carefully at the labels.”
As for the pH levels tested in the 15 samples, the report showed that six brands contained substances with a pH level below five, such as Listerine (natural citrus flavor), Against Anti-bacterial Mouthwash, and Oral-B. According to dental reports, a pH level lower than 5.5 can cause significant dental cavities.
The CF warned consumers that prolonged contact with high levels of acidity can lead to tooth decay, and that consumers should select carefully what they use to “clean” their mouths.
The CF said users shouldn't let the mouthwash fluid sit in their mouth for more than 60 seconds; patients plagued by oral ulcers should avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol; and excessive usage of mouthwash containing cetylpyridinium chloride may cause the teeth to turn a yellowish color.