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Mouthwashed and brainwashed PDF Print E-mail
Written by nuncio   
Sunday, 13 June 2010 14:49

I have been thinking about the bacteria in my mouth.

I don't buy into health scares. But I do try to take note of the science behind the big media health stories such as the interesting one from last month about the correlation between poor oral hygiene and heart attacks. The BMJ-published research appears to back up previous findings and concludes that "Poor oral hygiene is associated with higher levels of risk of cardiovascular disease and low grade inflammation, though the causal nature of the association is yet to be determined".

I'd be fascinated, as I'm sure many others would be, to know the "causal nature of the association". In the meantime, in this case, it seems reasonable for me to take stock of my own oral hygiene. I brush my teeth twice a day, sometimes with and electric toothbrush, sometimes manually; sometimes with my right hand and sometimes with my left. It's probably the case that my brushing is not as rigorous as it should be.

This being the case I thought I would buy some mouthwash to help to mitigate my lazy brushing. On trying the first, rather expensive, brand I noted "clumps" of matter in the sink after I spat it out. My first instinct was to feel quite satisfied by this. The mouthwash had evidently bound to nasty plaque or some such such and sluiced it out of my mouth. Job done. The other brand I tried, a supermarket own-brand at about a quarter of the price of the first, produced no such "clumping".

On comparing the ingredients of the two brands the only discernible difference I could see was that the "clumpy" one contained "PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil" and "Cocamidopropyl Betaine" (a surfactant). Why would there be any kind of Castor Oil in a mouthwash? I'm not a chemist and I don't know the answer to this. But I am suspicious of the motives of big companies such as GlaxoSmithKline. I suspect that, whichever ingredient is causing it, the "clumping" effect is a con cynically designed to "scientize" the simple anti-bacterial action of a mouthwash. The drug companies realise that consumers are educated enough to know a little about the detrimental effects of plaque build-up. So they invent some faked-up visual cue for the exit of plaque from the mouth in order to fool them into believing that their brand is doing more work than a cheaper one.

This is a small matter [sic] but symptomatic of the science-abuse routinely engaged in by cosmetics conglomerations [sic]. I'm tired of this kind of manipulation. I am, of course, free to choose my brand. So, from now on, I'll take the mouthwash without the lumps.

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