There are alarming reports and studies that have been, and continue to be, investigated as to the exact dangers and effects the commonly used mouthwash ingredients have.
What many do not realize are the very benefits commercial brands say their mouthwash has, actually are reversed by their use of certain chemical ingredients.
In a recent study turmeric turmeric mouthwash (10 mg curcumin extract dissolved in 100 ml of water with a peppermint flavoring agent added was found to be as effective as a solution made from chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX), the gold standard compound for plaque buildup in dentistry.
Turmeric contains approximately 3-4% curcumin by dry weight. This yellow pigmented polyphenol has been studied extensively in human clinical research as a natural alternative to the common mouthwash ingredient known as chlorhexidine for the treatment of gingivitis, “inflammation of the gum tissue.”
Recent research shows that turmeric extract and turmeric oil may even reverse precancerous changes in oral submucous fibrosis in humans. In addition, there are at least a dozen studies showing turmeric extract can kill oral cancer cells, including a recent study showing that turmeric extract-loaded nanoparticles kill chemotherapy-resistant oral cancer cells. But turmeric’s positive role to play in oral health encompasses more than relatively rare health issues like oral cancer, as it also has tangible value to the vast majority of folks who use common mouthwash in an attempt to keep their mouth clean of plaque.
The benefits to a homemade mouthwash far outweigh the commercial brands and go far deeper than the cost of a bottle on the supermarket shelf.
Oral hygiene is vital to us all in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums and mouthwash has earned its place along with toothpaste and flossing for being an essential step in our daily dental routine.
A little powder stirred into warm water makes an excellent mouthwash to treat inflamed gums and relieve toothache.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is much more than the familiar spice that gives curry blends their yellow colour and imparts to them a slightly bitter or astringent taste.
The medicinal part of turmeric comes from the fleshy underground rhizomes of a perennial plant from the same family as ginger with large lily-like leaves that can grow to about 3 feet high. The rhizomes are harvested in winter, boiled or steamed, and then dried. Most turmeric is available as a powder.
It is an amazing healing plant that has not only been valued for its therapeutic properties in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years but also has a significant role to play here in the West in the prevention and treatment of a wide range of modern day problems. It is an excellent natural antibiotic, and one of the best detoxifying herbs by virtue of its beneficial effect on the liver.
Turmeric contains constituents including curcumin, tumerone and zingiberone as well as high amounts of a carotene, equivalent to 50 IU of vitamin A per 100 grams. Probably the most important component is curcumin which gives turmeric its intense yellow colour. Curcumin is a powerful, yet safe anti-inflammatory agent, excellent for treating inflammatory problem such as arthritis, liver and gall bladder problems.
It has been found to block the production of certain prostaglandins and to have effects on a par with cortisone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects. Taking turmeric daily has an excellent anti-inflammatory effect, improving morning stiffness, joint swelling and pain with movement experienced by rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
Chemicals in mouthwash
Typical active ingredients in your regular branded mouthwash:
Chlorhexidine Recently, a number of chemical agents have been advocated which are either available in a toothpaste/dentifrices or in the form of a mouthwash. Among them, chlorhexidine is regarded as gold standard in dentistry for the prevention of dental plaque. The various mouthwashes available today are having certain side effects and are also expensive. Chlorhexidine mouthwash though very effective also has certain side effects like brown discoloration of the teeth, oral mucosal erosion, and bitter taste.
Thymol (2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol) is used to control varroa mites and prevent fermentation and the growth of mold in bee colonies as well as playing a part in rebinding old books where it is ised to control mold. Thymol is also used to treat Ringworm infections and hookworm. It is also used as a preservative in anesthetic and as an antiseptic in mouthwash. It has also been added to cigarettes to relax the trachea and smooth the inhalation of smoke.
Potential for Harm – Thymol is dangerous to the environment and toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. It is also being investigated as a mutagen
Eucalyptol is added chiefly for its spicy aroma and taste.
Potential for Harm – In higher than normal doses eucalyptol is hazardous when taken internally or when inhaled. It can have acute health effects on behaviour and the respiratory tract as well as the nervous system. It is generall recognized as being a reproductive toxin for both males and females.
Hexetidine (Oraldene) is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal drug used in some popularmouthwash products.
Potential for Harm – Too much of this drug taken internally leads to severe chronic conditions such as clotting in the principal part of the brain which integrates complex sensory and neural functions. This causes these functions to fail.
Other potential; problems from an overdose of Hexetidine include allergic reactions and unstable heartbeats, It is not advisable to take Hexetidine when pregnant or when breastfeeding. Hexetidine is considered to be carcinogenic.
Methyl Salicylate is rubefacient (that is – a substance for external use that causes dilation of the capillaries and an increase in blood circulation) It is also used as a flavoring agent and adds fragrance to some products. It also works as an odor masking agent for certain organophosphate pesticides.
Potential for Harm – In its pure state, methyl salicylate is toxic. This is especially true when taken internally. A teaspoon of methyl salicylate contains roughly 7g of salicylate, which is the equivalent of over twenty-three 300 mg aspirin tablets. The smallest lethal dose for an adult is 101 mg/kg body weight.
Methyl Salicylate has proved fatal for small children with doses as small as 4 mL. A 17 year-old athlete from Staten Island died after her body absorbed fatal levels of methyl salicylate through her skin after using topical muscle-pain relief products containing the drug.
Benzalkonium Chloride (also known as alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride and ADBAC) has many in industrial uses from a disinfectant in mouthwash to microbial corrosion inhibition in oilfields.
Potential for Harm – Benzalkonium chloride is an allergen. There are ongoing concerns that its repeated use may have some (as yet undiscovered) side effects in medical and hygiene products. However, studies have already shown that its use in contact lens solutions over time can cause irreversible damage to the eye evidenced by punctures of the corneal epithelium.
Benzalkonium chloride is highly toxic to fish – very highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates, moderately toxic to birds. A solution of 10% or more is toxic to humans, causing irritation to the skin and mucosa, and death if taken internally.
Cetylpyridinium Chloride mouth rinse/spray is still considered by manufacturers to be one of the best chemical preventatives of plaque formation. It is thought to be a suitable aid for preventing gingivitis.
Potential for Harm – This chemical unfortunately causes extrinsic tooth staining. It also has an unpleasant taste and can adversely affect the taste of food and drink, It is also responsible for causing sensitivity, irritation and pain in the tongue due to its high alcohol content.
A study in 1998 actually shows this chemical was responsible for an increase in plaque build-up rather than the decrease claimed.
Methylparaben is an anti-fungal chemical preservative added to products ranging from mouthwash to hair gels to extend shelf-life for the benefit of the drugstore owner. Methylparaben preservative is often added to carpules of the local anesthetic that your dentist might use.
Potential for Harm – Methylparaben has been considered as non-toxic for many years and it’s use is widespread as a p[roduct preservative. However recent tests indicate skin irritation and contact dermatitis and Rosacea occur in individuals with paraben allergies.
More worrying is the discovery (in several studies) that report the joint presence of parabens and breast cancer in women. One UK-based study detected high levels of parabens in breast tumors in eighteen out of twenty samples tested. Although inconclusive, this is a serious question mark hanging over this common mouthwash ingredient.
Hydrogen Peroxide is a chemical bleach. It is routinely added to mouthwash and toothpaste that is formulated and advertised to have a bleaching effect on teeth.
Potential for Harm – Hydrogen Peroxide is listed as being highly dangerous and injurious to health for workers handling this chemical. Danger comes from its vapor as well as through swallowing or skin contact. Obviously the amounts contained in oral products are controlled; however, there are always doubts and concerns when long-term use of toxic chemicals and the potential for the accumulation of harm may be an issue.
Alcohol is added to many mouthwash products for no other reason than it gives you a “zing” sensation in your mouth and the false impression that something good is happening.
Potential for Harm – There are a number of possible outcomes to swilling your mouth twice a day with up to 27% alcohol solution:
Because alcohol is a drying agent, it can reduce saliva and add to bad breath problems.
More importantly – a report published in the Dental Journal of Australia concluded there is “sufficient evidence “that “alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer”. This report has been discussed and debated by responsible sections of the media and is being actively investigated by Government health departments across the world, all very interested to get some clarity on this important discovery.
Turmeric Side Effects
People with hypoglycemia can use small amounts of turmeric in cooking, but should not take large amounts. The yellow color of turmeric can stain clothes and skin.