Mouthwash or hogwash?

Experts argue that not only is a mouthwash useless, but it can also be harmful to your health.

Waking up with the unpleasant hum of dog breath is far from uncommon. Whether it is the after-effects of a curry, or a more lingering problem of sewer-scented oral odour, around 95 per cent of Britons suffer bad breath at some time in their lives. Such is the social embarrassment that £350 million a year is spent on products that promise to sweeten breath. But is it money well spent? An increasing number of medical experts think not, with some going as far as to caution that swilling with a mouthwash can cause more problems than it purports to cure.

Central to the debate about the efficacy of mouthwashes is that many contain exceptionally high levels of alcohol. Some varieties - such as the UK's bestselling brand Listerine - contain 26.9 per cent alcohol, double the amount in wine and more than five times that in beer. It is not just that the alcohol in these products is risky to young children who might get hold of them. According to some critics, it may also render a mouthwash useless. Alcohol can dry out the mouth by drawing moisture from the tissues and slowing the flow of saliva. With limited saliva to flush away or dilute bacteria, it is suggested that rinses that contain alcohol cause germs to become more, not less, concentrated in the mouth - making smelly breath possibly worse.

Source - Times

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