It’s a symptom of the Internet age that medical skeptics can find all kinds of reasons to doubt the “medical establishment.” Often, this is the form of factoids that may be actual truths blown out of proportion, half-truths that are misinterpreted, or outright falsehoods.
One particular factoid that’s making the rounds right now is that Listerine “invented” the medical condition of bad breath to sell more mouthwash, which is, frankly, not true.
Medicine vs. Marketing
The Io9 article purports that bad breath really didn’t exist before Listerine came along and told people they had it, but the facts of their own argument–and their source–flatly contradict their story.
The argument hinges on the fact that in 1921, George Lambert, the son of Listerine founder Jordan Wheat Lambert, coined the term “halitosis” to describe bad breath. This is true, but it’s a far cry from Dr. Listerine actually inventing bad breath or creating a need that people didn’t perceive before.
So why was mouthwash invented? Listerine was first marketed in the 1880s as an all-purpose antiseptic, but it proved its effectiveness primarily for combating infections in the mouth. At first, it was only available as a prescription medication. Starting in 1914, it was considered so effective and popular as a treatment that it became available over-the-counter. This was before the condition “halitosis” was coined.
This is not to say that the coining of halitosis and the advertising campaign emphasizing that bad breath could make you a pariah didn’t have a major impact. It did. Along with changing social consciousness that made us ripe for this type of advertising, the new advertising approach increased the company’s income by more than 80-fold over the next decade.
Bad Breath Is a Serious Condition
But the effectiveness of the marketing campaign doesn’t take away from the fact that bad breath has long been a recognized condition (Munsey notes that it’s been seen in medical texts for at least 3000 years), and is today understood as a sign of potentially serious problems.
Persistent bad breath is normally a sign of uncontrolled bacterial infection in the mouth. It’s caused by the growth of anaerobic bacteria–bacteria that don’t like oxygen–and it often signals that bacteria are spreading in areas that oxygen doesn’t reach, such as below the gum line or inside your teeth. If you have persistent bad breath, it may mean that you need gum disease treatment. Or you may just need to change your oral hygiene, which may or may not include using mouthwash.
Should I Include Mouthwash in my Routine?
If you suffer from bad breath, it’s important to first visit your Rancho Mirage dentist to identify any underlying problems. Although mouthwash might boost your breath, it doesn’t treat the underlying cause of your ongoing bad breath. There are pros and cons to including mouthwash in your daily routine. On the plus side, it will kill bacteria and bad breath. Some mouthwashes even contain fluoride which can help strengthen your teeth and fight off cavities.
On the flip side, certain mouthwashes can potentially raise blood pressure or harm your teeth due to their high acidity. Mouthwash can also dry out your mouth or wreck your oral microbiome. Also, some mouthwashes might increase your risk of oral cancer. Not all mouthwashes are created equal.
Why You Should Rinse Your Mouth with OraCare
There is one mouth wash that we absolutely recommend to all our patients – OraCare.
OraCare is a smart choice for all patients but particularly those who:
- Have bad breath
- Sleep with their mouth open
- Have a yellow or white coating on their tongue
- Use tobacco products
- Suffer from dry mouth
OraCare uses activated chlorine dioxide to neutralize volatile sulfur compounds related to bad breath, it promotes the healing process in your mouth and breaks down biofilm to improve your overall oral hygiene and health. We actually have our patients rinse with OraCare before appointments because it’s anti-viral, antifungal, and antibacterial.
Treat Your Bad Breath in Rancho Mirage
Don’t let your bad breath go untreated or mask it with mouthwash that doesn’t work. The only way to say goodbye to bad breath for good is by contacting us for an appointment. Dr. Strober will identify what the cause of your bad breath is and treat it. If you’re interested in trying out OraCare on a consistent basis, please don’t hesitate to ask.
If you are having trouble with persistent bad breath in Rancho Mirage and want to learn how to combat it, please call (760) 832-7915 for an appointment at Country Club Dentistry today.