My word, those marketing folk. Their sneakiness knows no end when it comes to making us feel that we won’t be loved or successful if we fail to use the products they peddle.
Case in point: Listerine. The UK ad campaign is based around a ‘study’ that shows that Listerine users are bolder (subjective, much?) because they can go around being all confident about their fresh-smelling mouths.
Silly marketing claims make me even warier of supermarket products. So I headed for the ingredients section on Listerine’s website for the facts. Only to find…
There is no ingredients section.
A company that is proud of their product states their ingredients in an obvious spot on their website. Listerine is great at making empty claims, but it sucks at transparency. I wonder why?
The Problem With Mouthwash
I found the ingredients elsewhere on the Interwebs. Here are the highlights:
- Alcohol: this is what gives you that burning sensation in your mouth. The one that’s meant to make you confident that the product is working. But it’s actually stripping the delicate and protective skin membrane from your mouth. It can cause dryness in the mouth and has been linked to oral cancer.
- Flavouring/aroma: flavourings are considered a trade secret by law, so companies aren’t obliged to go into detail. This is a handy little loophole, since it allows brands to hide a host of nasty chemicals under this umbrella term. Recent studies have shown that flavourings can contain endocrine interrupters (affecting fertility), allergy-inducers and cancer-causing chemicals. Run for the hills anytime you see flavourings, aroma, or fragrance on an ingredient list.
- Benzoic acid: a preservative that has been linked to hyperactivity in children and nervous system damage.
- Sodium Fluoride: this is a synthetic byproduct from the fertiliser, aluminium and nuclear industries, that has been arbitrarily marketed as the perfect solution to tooth decay. (How to make megabucks from an annoying byproduct that you don’t know what to do with: tell everyone that it’s a miracle cure for [insert common hygiene issue here], give it a shiny marketing campaign, and sit back and watch the quids roll in. Genius!) In reality, sodium fluoride weakens the immune system, can damage the kidneys and liver, and disrupts sleep – not to mention it’s a neurotoxin. And it actually makes teeth worse (it has been shown to cause a mottled effect on enamel).
- Sodium Benzoate: a preservative that can cause asthma attacks, hives and other allergic reactions, and deprives cells of oxygen. It has been linked to cancer.
You may be wondering whether these ingredients are really that harmful to your body if they’re just being swished around in your mouth for a bit.
The thing is, the mouth is super absorbant. The skin in the mouth is so very fine that toxic ingredients penetrate it instantly and get into your bloodstream very easily from there. So it’s important to be discerning about everything that goes into your mouth, even if it’s just for 30 seconds.
So How Do You Get Fresh Breath?
- Use a natural mouthwash, such as this neem one, or this brushing rinse.
- Make your own mouthwash by dissolving a tablespoon of pure sea salt in a 500ml jar of water. Simple as that! You can add essential oils such as peppermint or neem if you want. The point of mouthwash is to alkalise the mouth. So, all you need is salt, really!
- Eat/drink your greens. The chlorophyll in green juice will detox you from the inside out, making you naturally fresh smelling.
- Cut down your sugar intake. Bad breath can be caused by eating too much sugar. (It can also be caused by drinking coffee and smoking, but you definitely weren’t doing that, were you?)
- Floss regularly, use a tongue scraper, and also try oil pulling.
I hope this post has convinced you to chuck that gross chemical cocktail down the sink and start taking your oral health into your own hands.
Here’s to sticking it to Johnson & Johnson,
p.s. Have you seen the article that influential magazine Paulette wrote about our cooking workshops? We’re thrilled!
p.p.s. We were also featured in a video on LePoint.fr today. So proud!