Originally published October 24 2008
Mouthwash Linked to Oral Cancer, Erosion of Tooth Enamel
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) Daily use of mouthwash has been linked to increased incidents of oral cancer, erosion of tooth enamel, increased tooth sensitivity, and higher levels of bad breath according to recent studies. In the first study, researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil reviewed case-control studies from 1998 to 2002. A total of 309 patients with oral cancer of the mouth and pharynx and 468 controls matched by sex and age were included. Detailed information on smoking, alcohol consumption, schooling, and oral health and hygiene were obtained through interviews. Results indicated that daily mouthwash use was strongly associated with cancer of the pharynx and also associated with cancer of the mouth.
Surprisingly, the use of full dental prosthesis was not associated with oral cancer, although bleeding gums and failure to have dental visits were also strongly associated.
In another study, at the Division of Restorative Dentistry in Bristol, U.K., researchers found that use of low pH mouthwashes cause erosion of dental enamel that is directly correlated to sensitivity in teeth. People with less enamel complained of much greater tooth sensitivity to hot and cold.
The study measured both in situ and in vitro erosion by three low pH mouthwashes. Results showed that enamel loss in situ and in vitro was progressive over time with all three mouthwashes. The team recommended that low pH mouthwashes should not be considered for long term or continuous use and should never be used prior to brushing.
Low pH indicates high acidity levels. Most common mouthwash products sold at traditional retail outlets are highly acidic. Listerine has a pH of 4.3, and Scope has a pH of 5.0. Neutral pH is 7.0 with declining values indicating increased levels of acidity. Healthy body saliva has a pH of 6.4 to 6.8.
Most people use mouthwash to eliminate bad breath caused by food stuck between the teeth and bacteria which feed off this accumulation of food. But experts say that mouthwash doesn't live up to its reputation. It works for a short period of time by killing lots of germs. But this is followed by the high alcohol content drying out the mouth. When saliva glands are dry, they are unable to help wash away bacteria, so it flourishes and causes even more bad breath. This is why babies always have sweet smelling breath since they produce so much saliva and drool a lot.
So, mouthwash may make your breath smell better for a short period of time, but what have you done to your immune system, esophagus and stomach lining? And what about that chemical soup your liver is required to detoxify? Do you really need to add more chemicals to the toxic overload your body has to cope with daily?
"Could there be any correlation between the use of mouthwash and an epidemic known as acid reflux disease?" asks Crusador columnist Greg Ciola who realizes much more study is needed in this area.
There are some new products on the market that help solve a bad breath situation in a health promoting manner. Spry and Peelu are two companies that each make a line of products sweetened with xylitol that includes chewing gum, toothpaste, oral rinse, and mints. These companies cite studies that have shown xylitol to help reduce the occurrence of cavities and improve overall oral health as well as sweeten breath. They are available in health food stores and online from such retailers as Lucky Vitamin and Vitacost.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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