Wed, Mar 13, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Foundation warns against excessive use of mouthwash

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Mouthwash with chemical content that exceeds the allowable limit might do the user more harm than good, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

Mouth rinses are commonly used to get rid of germs and prevent bad breath.

However, there are concerns about the safety of some products, because there are currently no standards regulating their contents, the foundation said.

Using the standards set for toothpaste, the foundation inspected 15 mouthwashes bought in supermarkets and cosmetic shops and found that six had a pH lower than 5 and one contained enough chlorhexidine gluconate to be labeled as over-the-counter medication.

An oral environment with a pH lower than 5 can easily lead to cavities caused by the overgrowth of acidic bacteria, and the inspection the average pH value of all tested products was about 7, the agency said.

The concentration of three different chemical substances — triclosan, fluoride and chlorhexidine — in mouthwashes was also tested.

Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial hygiene products, but can cause tumors or hormonal imbalance if used excessively.

Health authorities have set the limit for the concentration of triclosan in toothpastes. at 0.03 percent

The foundation did not find any mouthwashes exceeding this limit.

Fluoride, which is widely used to prevent cavities, can cause damage to teeth and bones if used in large doses. The national standard (for toothpaste) is 1,500 parts per million and all items were found to be within these limits as well, the foundation said.

However, one brand of mouthwash tested had a chlorhexidine gluconate concentration higher than is allowed in a general commercial product.

The foundation warned consumers against using mouthwash for periodontitis prevention, as most mouthwashes on sale contain little or no antibacterial substances.

In addition, swallowing mouthwash with fluoride can be extremely harmful to a person’s health, especially children’s, it said.

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