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Can a Mouth Wash Reduce Plaque?

May 20, 2010

Recently, the FDA has cracked down on several mouthwash companies for making false claims in their advertising campaigns. It is common and expected to hear mouthwash brands claim that they can reduce plaque, prevent gum disease, and promote healthy gums, but the FDA says these benefits have never been demonstrated in clinical trial. As such, the mouthwash companies will be required to remove the claims of gum protection and plaque removal from their advertisements in order to comply with federal regulations.

So why all the fuss? Does mouthwash really reduce or prevent plaque even though it hasn’t been proven in clinical trials? The answer is maybe. The active ingredient in most mouthwash products is sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride has been shown to prevent cavities, but has not been proven to remove plaque or reduce instances of periodontitis.

And what’s the big deal? According to the FDA, companies are not allowed to claim that they are effective in treating a disease unless those claims can be verified. Secondly, the FDA must also monitor the products to ensure that they are safe for over-the-counter consumption. The mouthwash product is safe for use, but cannot be marketed as treating a disease that it may or may not treat.

The mouthwash companies and national drugstores carrying the brands have been targeted specifically by the FDA. The people speaking on their behalf claim these organizations will respond in a timely and adequate manner.

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