By ecoRI News staff
So, you just brushed your choppers and, after rinsing, you reach for that bottle of antiseptic mouthwash that you’ve been using for years. Well slow down, Dr. Teeth. That bottle could contain substances that are known and probable human carcinogens and may cause neurological problems when over-consumed. Not to mention spitting them into your sink and, ultimately, our oceans.
Many mouthwashes use alcohol as their main antiseptic ingredient. Alcohol is great for killing bacteria and germs, but in 2009, the Dental Journal of Australia confirmed a link between alcohol-based mouthwashes and increased occurrences of oral cancers.
Most mouthwashes contain at least some sodium fluoride. While fluoride helps fight cavities by killing the tooth enamel-eating bacteria in your mouth, studies have linked increased fluoride levels in humans to neurological problems and could be a cancer trigger as well. The artificial sweeteners used in most mouthwashes also have a range of observed effects on people. Saccharin is a suspected carcinogen, and sucralose may trigger migraines in those that suffer from these most painful of headaches.
Some mouthwashes actually contain formaldehyde. Overexposure to formaldehyde can cause a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat, as well as coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation. Formaldehyde also gets upgraded, from “suspected” to “probable” on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of carcinogens. There’s really no reason to give the mortician that handles your earthly remains a head start.
What happens after you spit? Well, mouthwashes contain a laundry list of chemicals that have been proven to be toxic to marine organisms. Among them are sodium lauryl sulfate, polysorbate, cetylpyridinium chloride and benzalkonium chloride. Tasty!
So what do those concerned with the environment and fresh breath do to avoid their spouses, friends and family recoiling in disgust every time they open their mouth? Check the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database for environmentally friendly mouthwashes.
You also can make your own mouth cleanser at home. As with most DIY projects and products, the Internet has nearly as many recipes for homemade mouthwash as you have different types of bacteria in your mouth right now.