Your Alcohol-free Mouthwash need not Turn Your Urine Blue

Occasionally, the need for an alcohol-free mouthwash may send you searching through popular health blogs in the hopes of finding a product that will clear up your bad breath. Well, search no more, because TheraBreath offers a number of alcohol-free rinses that can neutralize odor and clean the mouth, all without harsh chemicals.

And if you think synthetic chemical are never marketed as halitosis solutions anymore, just look at how often photodynamic therapy for bad breath, or “blue light therapy,” appears in headlines. This treatment, which is totally unnecessary for eliminating oral odor, uses a chemical that can turn your urine and eye whites blue.

What is photodynamic therapy?

Most recently, an article published by the UK’s Daily Mail discussed using such a treatment for halitosis. In a piece that also touched on using “light therapy” for such conditions as epilepsy, cancer, stroke and stomach ulcers, halitosis stands out a bit. And the article uses a photo of a house lamp to illustrate “harnessing the power of light.” Hopefully your skepticism has been aroused.

As it turns out, so-called blue light treatments for halitosis are based on photodynamic therapy (PT), a century-old medical practice that uses photosensitizing chemicals (plus a narrow spectrum of light wavelengths) to kill pathogens or fight disease.

However, the use of this treatment for bad breath has yet to be proven effective. In a review of PT referenced by the news source (and appearing in the journal Periodontology 2000), researchers tout the potential of PT, but find limited evidence to suggest that it works.

Of the studies marshaled for the review, only about half attribute any benefit to PT.

And then there are the side effects

Why is it best to use a specialty alcohol-free mouthwash instead of PT? Well…

- PT uses methylene blue, a cell staining chemical that temporarily turns urine and eye whites blue – hence the rapid decline in its first use – namely, as an anti-malarial drug during World War II (GIs didn’t appreciate the color change).

- If improperly used, methylene blue can cause DNA damage.

- Finally, to reiterate: There is no good evidence to suggest it works. And it’s way more expensive than a good, basic, alcohol-free mouthwash!

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