Is Mouthwash Really Necessary?

Well, not really. According to a study by a panel appointed by the Food and Drug Administration, there aren't many positive things to say about the stuff. The panel of experts checked out thirty-four ingredients used in mouthwashes and found that none of them was safe and effective. In fact, the panel recommended that ten of the ingredients including boric acid, ferric chloride, potassium chlorate, sodium dichromate, and phenol -- should not be used at all.

Bad breath in the morning is something most people have, but it doesn't indicate an oral disease. According to the panel, most people can solve their breath problems by rinsing their mouths with water, brushing their teeth, flossing, or simply eating breakfast.

The experts not only discourage the use of antimicrobial ingredients in mouthwashes, they feel that advertisers should not claim on the label or in advertising that their products kill germs by million or in minutes, or that the mouthwash inhibits odor-forming bacteria.

In checking out products marketed for the temporary relief of sore throat, the panel found some ingredients acceptable but they found no safe and effective ingredients that act as expectorants to remove thick secretions from the mouth and throat.

If you develop an oral condition that won't go way, it's best to consult your doctor or dentist rather than to try a drugstore remedy. Similarly, if a sore throat becomes severe and persistent, see your doctor.

About the Author: Robin Westen is ThirdAge's medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. She is the author of "Ten Days to Detox: How to Look and Feel a Decade Younger."


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