Using a mouthwash daily is, for many people a normal part of their oral care routine. But could this be causing more harm to your health than good?
We trust that the big brands are creating products that are safe and healthy - but in reality, many are full of chemicals that may not be as safe as we presume.
Oral care products like mouthwash are not made to same safety standards as products that are meant to be ingested. However, the mouth is often called ‘the gateway to the body’ and is particularly absorbing, therefore susceptible to toxins and chemicals which can find their way into the rest of the body. This is why we believe that natural is best and only use certified food grade products.
What could be lurking in your mouthwash? Here are 4 common ingredients to watch out for...
Alcohol is a key ingredient used by major oral care brands because of its strong tingling sensation and powerful antibacterial qualities. So powerful in fact that it destroys both the good bacteria as well as the bad. It’s also drying - which can contribute to dry mouth syndrome and is a known carcinogen - not something you really want in your mouth, right? According to ADA - there is now sufficient evidence to show that alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer. We’ve become accustomed to using mouthwash with alcohol but actually gargling with warm salt water and some baking soda, or using a natural alcohol-free mouthwash is actually just as effective when it comes to clearing the bad bacteria in your mouth.
Fluoride is perceived by many to be an effective protection against tooth decay and is found in many oral products and drinking water. It is thought to assist the remineralisation process (a key part of tooth decay prevention) by replacing the minerals with a thin layer of harder, more bacteria resistant material than what has been lost. However Flouride is also used as an insecticide and in more concentrated doses is poisonous to humans. Long-term exposure to fluoride can lead to health problems like fluorosis - see more here. There are more natural ways you can effectively remineralise your teeth and prevent gum disease like eating a varied diet of nutrient dense, organic foods high in calcium, Magnesium, vitamin A, Zinc, Iron and Vitamin D.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a synthetic chemical and frothing agent used in lots of the main brand mouthwashes. It works by separating molecules for better widespread contact between toothpaste and mouth, creating a lather effect. However, it is a known irritant and has been shown to cause mouth inflammation and worsen mouth ulcers. In fact, the irritant properties of SLS are so certain, it is actually used as a marker in scientific studies when testing the safety of other ingredients to help reduce irritation. It’s not necessary for effective teeth cleaning - and is used mostly for aesthetic reasons.
Sodium Saccharin is another synthetic ingredient, manufactured from petroleum products found in many well-known mouthwashes. It’s a commonly used sweetener that is used as a sugar substitute because it doesn’t contain any calories. It has been shown in studies to be a possible carcinogenic too, being linked to bladder cancer in animals and has been banned in the US. Therefore frequent ingesting of it over long periods of time isn’t really encouraged. Because of the intensity of the sweetness, Harvard Health has said that it can cause the shunning of healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods in favour of more artificially flavoured foods with less nutritional value.
Scary, right? Many major oral care brands continue to use these ingredients because of the efficiency and effectiveness when mass producing. Also, unfortunately, side effects often occur because of cumulative ingestion and therefore can take a long time to show. Don’t forget to check the labels and do your research to help you make informed decisions - and if you decide you want to stay away from additives such as these, the good news is, there are many natural alternatives out there that have been formulated to cause the least harm possible.