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Mouthwash is Toxic to Cells and Damages DNA

by Barbara Minton
See all TBYIL articles by Barbara Minton

(The Best Years in Life) Daily use of mouthwash has been linked to increased incidence of oral cancer, erosion of tooth enamel, increased tooth sensitivity, and higher levels of bad breath. If that weren't enough, research has just revealed that mouthwash is toxic to cells and damages DNA.

In a recent study, the larvae of fruit flies were treated with mouthwashes containing two commonly found mouthwash ingredients, chlorexidin and benzidamine-HCL, administered at different concentrations.  Chlorexidin exposure ranged from 0.5 to 2mg/ml, and benzidamine-HCL exposure ranged from 0.38 to 1.5mg/ml.  Both chlorexidin and benzidamine-HCL were found to be damaging to DNA. Survival rates of fruit flies exposed to either chlorexidin or benzidamine-HCL were significantly lower than those of the control group.

In other research cytoxicity, cell proliferation and collagen synthesis assays were performed to determine the toxic effects of chlorexidine on human osteoblastic cell lines.  Osteoblasts are the cells responsible for new bone formation. Chlorexidine demonstrated cytotoxic effects to these cells in a dose dependent manner. It also inhibited collagen synthesis and displayed the potential for destroying tooth roots.

In order for mouthwash to "kill germs" as it is widely advertised to do, it must be toxic and destructive to living tissues. But consumers are not made aware of this fact when they see ads for mouthwash or pick a bottle of the enticingly bright colored liquid off store shelves.

The implications of this toxicity are enormous. Although mouthwash is not usually swallowed, it is absorbed into mouth tissues and enters the blood stream.  Altered DNA has shown to initiate many degenerative diseases including cancer. Beneficial intestinal bacteria are killed by the toxins in mouthwash residue that is swallowed even after the mouth has been rinsed, just as swallowing pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables destroys friendly bacteria in the gut. The immune system is compromised by cytotoxins because they are not natural substances and therefore are identified as invaders that must be ousted, thus keeping the immune system occupied and unable to do its regular job of ensuring cellular integrity. Cytotoxins must be detoxified in the liver, the detoxification organ of the body that already has a full time job dealing with other toxins encountered in modern living.

Other studies have revealed the dangers to health posed by mouthwash use. Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil reviewed case-control studies from 1998 to 2002. A total of 309 patients with cancer of the mouth and pharnyx 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. After factoring out these confounders, the researchers found a strong association between mouthwash use and cancer of the pharynx, and also a link between mouthwash use and cancer of the mouth.

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 complain of much greater tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. The study measured enamel erosion caused by three low pH mouthwashes. Results showed that enamel loss 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, because they soften enamel allowing it to be brushed away.


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 of 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 bacteria, but this is followed by the high alcohol content drying out your mouth. When saliva glands are dry, they are unable to help wash away bacteria, so it flourishes and causes even more bad breath. They cite the example of babies who always have sweet smelling breath because they produce so much saliva.

Could there be a correlation between the use of mouthwash and an epidemic known as acid reflux syndrome?  Preliminary research is suggesting the answer is yes.

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 lines of  products sweetened with xylitol.  Each brand includes chewing gum, toothpaste, oral rinse, and mints. They contain no toxic ingredients. Their manufacturers cite studies showing xylitol helps reduce the occurrence of cavities and improves overall oral health as well as sweetening breath. These products are available in health food stores and online.

See also:

Make Your Own Safe, Natural and Healthy Tooth Pastes and Tooth Cleansers

Avoiding Toxins and Removing Them from Your Body

Making Your Home Safe in the 21st Century

For more information:

About the author:

Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.

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