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Conventional mouthwash usually contains many chemicals. One such chemical is sodium chlorite, also known as chlorine dioxide and comes with claims like “fresh breath for up to six hours”  despite independent studies showing that the effects of these mouthwashes actually only last for as little as 42 minutes. Conventional styles of mouth rinse usually focus on altering the chemical composition of the rancid gases but they do nothing to stop the bacteria causing bad breath.

There are a number of mouthwash brands that contain sodium chlorite mixed with zinc chloride. The zinc ions prevent bacteria from producing gas by blocking their amino-acid receptor sites. Some other products use two enzymes that break down biofilm and balance the bacteria population in your mouth. While these mouthwashes may seem to eliminate bad breath for a short period of time they will not eliminate odor-causing microbes.

Long term use of mouthwashes that contain the harsh detergent cocamidopropyl betaine compound or alcohol can dry and change the pH of the mouth and throat and have been associated with an increase risk of oral cancers. One very well known mouthwash contains a slightly milder detergent called Poloxamer 407. The worringly unique qualities of Poloxamer 407 is that it is soluble in liquids at low temperature but turns into a gel at higher temperatures (body temperature) making it a film former and therefore keeps other toxic ingredients in the oral cavity for much longer. Chlorhexidine, a chemical antiseptic and disinfectant is also used in some mouthwashes and toothpastes.

Mouthwashes commonly contain fluoride, sorbitol and saccharin, as well as synthetic colours, aromas and flavorings. Flavorings and aromas are usually chemically derived perfumes and are composed of volatile solvents, which can alter the basic flora of the mouth and have been known to cause dermatitis around the mouth.

The Alternatives.

For mouthwash die-hards there are natural products that are alcohol-free and don’t contain such a large collection of worrying ingredients.

But, be aware that even essential oils or some naturally derived oils can cause irritation. It is very important to use essential oils in a very diluted form – just one or two drops diluted in a glass of water works well and you should never swallow.

Several studies have found that using a dilution of essential oils, as a mouthwash is very effective and are able to prevent bad breath for up to three hours by eliminating odor-producing germs in the mouth.

One study from the University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center, New York, has found that natural solutions such as peppermint, thyme, wintergreen or eucalyptus can help to reduce inflammation and plaque that may cause bad breath.

Another study, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, reported that essential oil mouthwashes are able to reduce, by 75 percent, the presence of Streptococcus mutans, a type of Streptococcus that causes dental carries.

A recent study which was published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology stated that turmeric can be as, if not more, effective as using a conventional mouthwash for treating gingivitis.

Another natural technique that can promote healthy oral health is oil pulling. This ancient Ayurveda Indian tradition is done by swishing oil in your mouth and pulling it in between your teeth. This practice is said to kill pathogenic bacteria, promote optimal oral hygiene and detoxify your system. If you decide to try this, it is suggested that you use coconut oil.

There really is no shortcut to treating chronic or persistent bad breath; you must first find what is causing the problem. Bad breath comes from sulphur-producing bacteria on the tongue. You may have bad breath due to poor oral hygiene, gum disease, cavities or poor nutrition. Good basic oral hygiene, including keeping your tongue clean and healthy eating can usually make mouthwash an unnecessary thing. The best way of finding out what is at the heart of the problem is to visit your dentist.

To make an appointment with Dr Matthew Clougher call the Dental Pod on 6234 5114.

Because it’s time you thought differently about your dental health.