The Mouthwash Conspiracy

Many adults have the need to cure bad breath (or halitosis) yet How many of us have used Listerine® to keep your mouth clean and your breath fresh?

The claim that Listerine will “Kill the germs that cause bad breath” is spurious.

It is now scientifically proven that using alcohol based ‘antiseptic mouthwashes’ is not the most effective way to kill the bacteria that cause bad breath.

The bacteria that cause halitosis are not the only bacteria that live in our mouth, believe it or not there are ‘good bacteria’ that play a real part in keeping our mouths clean & healthy. One of the downsides with any antiseptic mouthwash is that they tend to kill everything – that means the ‘good bacteria’ as well.

At best, these antiseptic mouthwashes will only temporarily mask the the foul odor of bad breath. They are certainly not a cure for bad breath.

But why pick on antiseptic mouthwashes and Listerine® in particular?

Industry Research firm ReportLinker’s annual report into the US Market for Oral Care Products (2009 – 7th edition) reveals that there are over 130 million users of mouthwash in the US alone spending in excess of $1billion per year on mouthwash.

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Worldwide, billions of dollars are being spent each & every year on mouthwash. And who is really benefiting? – it is certainly not the consumer, yet the mouthwash ‘big brand owners’ are reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in profit.

In some major markets Listerine® has acquired up to 75% market share.

And what of oral cancer….

Debate has raged for years about whether or not alcohol based mouthwash products contribute to incidents of oral cancer. The Australian Dental Journal made this statement after a comprehensive review of a study carried out in 3 countries;

“There is now sufficient evidence to accept the proposition that developing oral cancer is increased or contributed to by the use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes.”

Have a think over these curious facts about Listerine®:

  • It was originally created in 1879 as a disinfectant for surgical procedures
  • In about 1884 it became an ‘all purpose’ antiseptic
  • Over the decades until 1929, Listerine was used for:
  • Treating dandruff and dry scalp
  • as a beauty treatment for skin
  • antiseptic for cuts
  • As a deodorant
  • An after-shave lotion
  • During World War 1, it was even used as a wound irrigant.
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….. Mouthwash eh?

The cynic is forgiven for thinking that the marketers merely decided the ‘mouthwash application’ was the most profitable, rather than the most efficacious use of the product – a product that seems to have all the characteristics of a ‘snake oil’ solution.

Even if you believe that all this is inconclusive, would you still spend the money and carry the potential health risk it where a better, cheaper alternative mouthwash existed as a genuine cure for bad breath?

By the way, here’s a tip; If you want to test how your own breath smells, forget cupping your hands around you nose and attempting to sniff your breath.

Simply lick the skin on the inside of your wrist, allow it to briefly, then smell your wrist where you licked – what you smell there is the best indication of how your breath smells to others!


by David X Wheatley