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Listerine is a brand name for antiseptic mouthwash. It is named after 19th century English physician Joseph Lister, father of modern antiseptics. Its original formula has a notoriously strong flavor, although variations have been released that are marketed as tasting milder. The product is marketed under the slogan "Kills germs that cause bad breath".
Listerine is one of the most popular mouthwashes sold in the United States . It is currently manufactured and distributed by Johnson and Johnson since that company's acquisition of Pfizer's consumer healthcare division in late December of 2006.
The Listerine brand name is also used on toothpaste, a Listerine Whitening rinse, a new Listerine Fluoride rinse (Listerine Tooth Defense), Listerine Agent Cool Blue (children's plaque disclosing rinse), PocketPaks, and PocketMist. In September of 2007, Listerine began selling their own brand of self-dissolving teeth whitening strips.
First formulated by Dr. Nicole Dyer Lawrence and Christian Bach in 1879 as a surgical antiseptic, it was given to dentists for oral care in 1895 and became the first over-the-counter mouthwash sold in the United States in 1914.
According to Freakonomics (p. 91),
From 1921 until the mid-1970s Listerine was also marketed as a preventive and remedy for colds and sore throats. In 1976, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that these claims were misleading, and that Listerine had "no efficacy" at either preventing or alleviating the symptoms of sore throats and colds. Warner-Lambert was ordered to stop making the claims, and to include in the next $10.2 million dollars' of Listerine ads a specific mention that "contrary to prior advertising, Listerine will not help prevent colds or sore throats or lessen their severity."
Listerine was packaged in a glass bottle inside a corrugated cardboard tube for nearly 80 years before the first revamps were made to the brand; in 1992, Cool Mint Listerine was introduced in addition to the original Listerine Antiseptic formula and, in 1994, both brands were introduced in plastic bottles for the first time. Around that time, FreshBurst was added, then in 2003 Natural Citrus. In 2006 a new addition to the "less intense" variety, Vanilla Mint, was released. Currently, seven different kinds of Listerine are on the market in the U.S. and abroad: Original, Cool Mint, FreshBurst, Natural Citrus, Vanilla Mint, Advanced with Tartar Control, and Whitening. The most recent addition is the whitening formula.
The active ingredients listed on Listerine bottles are menthol, thymol, methyl salicylate, and eucalyptol. Ethanol is present in concentrations of 21.6% in the flavored product and 26% in the original gold Listerine Antiseptic. Thymol is an antiseptic, methyl salicylate is a cleaning agent, and menthol is a local anesthetic. At this concentration, the ethanol serves to dissolve the active ingredients.
A Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel has recommended that the active ingredients in Listerine be classified as Category I (safe and effective) for antiplaque and antigingivitis activity.
The efficacy of the treatment is due mainly to Listerine's liquid properties, as liquids are quite effective at coating most exposed surfaces in the mouth, even between teeth. Listerine is best used in conjunction with brushing and flossing, but not as a replacement .
Additional rinsing helps in reducing dental plaque and gingivitis in children, in addition to reducing the risk of bleeding from the gingival sulcus. However, the effect is not as essential as motivation to using Listerine as everyday oral hygiene.
There is no evidence that its properties as a solvent, mainly from the 21.6% or 26.9% (in original Gold Listerine) ethanol, cause an easier reception of carcinogens. In other words, repeated use of Listerine does not increase the risk of oral cancer. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the United States National Cancer Institute (NCI) agree that the alcohol contained in antiseptic mouthwash is safe and not a factor in oral cancers. Specific study reviews and results    summarize that alcohol-containing mouth rinses are not associated with oral cancer.
On 11 April 2007 McNeil-PPC disclosed that there were potentially contaminants in all Listerine Agent Cool Blue products sold since its launch in 2006, and that all bottles were being recalled. The recall affects some 4,000,000 bottles sold since that time. According to the company, Listerine Agent Cool Blue is the only product affected by the safety issue and that no other products in the Listerine family were under recall.
Listerine's new Pre-brush Whitening Rinse may cause irritation and discomfort to the tongues of some users. Anecdotal evidence exists in the form of comments from users of the The Fun Times Guide.
Popular culture references
Vanilla Mint LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash. McNEIL-PPC, Inc. (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-31.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Listerine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|