Why should people choose alcohol-free mouthwash to get rid of bad breath? There are many reasons. To begin with, alcohol may actually worsen dry mouth, which is one of the many causes of bad breath. However, there's an even better reason to go for alcohol-free mouthwash, which is that other products may contain potentially dangerous chemicals that should be nowhere near your mouth.
For example, triclosan is an ingredient that you may find in many toothpastes and mouthwashes, and according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado, triclosan may impair muscle function.
Common chemical with unique dangers
The scientists stated that triclosan is often found in many antibacterial personal care products, along with things you'd find around your home such as bedding, clothes, carpets, toys and trash bags. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated back in 1998 that more than one million pounds of triclosan were produced annually, and trace amounts of the chemical can be detected in water, fish, human urine and breast milk.
The EPA adds that triclosan is a registered pesticide, and is incorporated into conveyor belts and fire hoses. If this isn't enough reason to not want this chemical in your mouth, look at the findings of the recent study. The researchers were inspired to investigate the effect that triclosan could have on the muscles, and used amounts of the substance that people would commonly encounter in their everyday lives.
After performing several experiments, the team came to their conclusion. Specifically, they wanted to see how triclosan affected molecular channels that control the movements of calcium ions in the muscle, which enables them to contract. This is the basis of all muscle movements, including heartbeats. The researchers discovered that in the presence triclosan this process was impaired, which caused muscle failure.
Mice (that were placed under anesthesia) experienced a 25 percent reduction in heart function within 20 minutes of exposure to the chemical.
Furthermore, after being given a single dose of triclosan, mice had an 18 percent reduction in grip strength for 60 minutes.
Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis and a study co-author, called the effects of triclosan on the heart "dramatic," comparing it to a regulated cardiac depressant.
Time for a change
Study authors stated that because triclosan is so prevalent, their research should be taken into account.
"Triclosan is found in virtually everyone's home and is pervasive in the environment," said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. "These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health."
Chiamvimonvat added that while this study is no guarantee that the effects of triclosan are the same on humans, the fact that they were so strong provides evidence that the chemical may be harmful to human health.
"In patients with underlying heart failure, triclosan could have significant effects because it is so widely used," he added.
The researchers are planning further study into the impact of this chemical in humans. But the real question is - why take the risk? Get rid of all of your dental health products that contain triclosan in favor of specialty breath fresheners that do not contain this harsh chemical. This way, you can eliminate halitosis without having to ingest potentially harmful substances or risking dry mouth.