Alternatives to liquid mouthwash for travelers?
December 19, 2008 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Are there other products as effective in reducing plaque which take up less space in my luggage? Or is there some way to find listerine in a powdered form?

I use listerine regularly. Not for bad breath, but because (based on personal experience) when used in addition to flossing it seems to help reduce plaque and keep my gums healthy. While it is possible to easily pick up small travel size bottles in the US, I often travel to places where it is not so easy to pick up a bottle. And I like to travel light, so bringing large bottles of liquid isn't something I'm willing to do. Not to mention bans on liquids in carry-on luggage...

I knew someone who was once given listerine in a powder form by their doctor before a trip to a third-world country, but I don't see any such thing available for sale online, even at places that specialize in supplies for dental clinics. (There is listerine powder for sale, but its from the 1940s!)

So I thought I'd turn to MeFi to see if anyone had any suggestions. Are there other products as effective in reducing plaque which take up less space in my luggage? Or is there some way to find listerine in a powdered form?

Thanks for your suggestions!
posted by Kerim to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
 
Listerine Pocket Paks
posted by IndigoRain at 11:20 PM on December 19, 2008


Can you just buy a bottle when you get where ever you're going and just use it while you're there? I know it's wasteful but it's convenient to buy toiletries during trips to cut down on luggage.
posted by woolylambkin at 12:07 AM on December 20, 2008


The essential ingredients of Listerine include methanol, ethanol, and some oils like menthol, thymol, and eucalyptol. Those don't dry down to a powder; they evaporate.

Why not just get some whisky, or whatever passes for it locally, and use that?

Other products effective at reducing plaque include a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:45 AM on December 20, 2008


Why would mouthwash do anything for plaque? It's just 20% alcohol and sweet stuff.

You might as well just take some swigs of liqueur. It's only supposed to help "kill germs", as far as I know.

Really, you should be able to get by with brushing and flossing.
posted by floam at 12:48 AM on December 20, 2008


Salt + water = plaque killer. Don't take my word for it, take the word of my (quite expensive) dentist. He said: Make sure you gargle and swill with salt water every day. Seawater will do but 1 teaspoon of salt in a 1/4 cup of water is better. Just gargle and swill everyday. Its much better for your teeth than Listerine. The salt dissolves more quickly in warm water.

As a former maxillo-facial patient with a fractured jaw who could not bite or chew or brush or floss for 6 months... saline is the answer. Salt water really cleans your mouth. Mint flavouring is just flavouring.
posted by evil_esto at 2:16 AM on December 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Since you can't find it in dental supply places, I would wonder if it was a prescription-only item or an oral antiseptic that's not Listerine brand? I've not heard of one in a powder form, but I think it would be great! I wonder if you mix it with water, or alcohol?

Have you tried asking your pharmacist to look it up for you? You might also email your question to Listerine/Johnson & Johnson.
posted by Houstonian at 3:30 AM on December 20, 2008


I don't mean this to be snarky, but why don't you just recycle the next travel-sized bottle you buy? Keep it in your travel kit and refill it with your big bottle from home before you leave. Sorry this doesn't answer your question about powdered Listerine, but I just thought it might be a way to work around the problem.
posted by katie at 4:48 AM on December 20, 2008


Salt water really cleans your mouth

Seconded. Salt water is the single most ubiquitous and widespread mouthwash on the planet. It's also acts as a disinfectant in a pinch.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:12 AM on December 20, 2008


1. "Listerine Pocket Paks" Do these really do anything? My impression is that they are only for bad breath.

2. "Can you just buy a bottle when you get where ever you're going" Did you read the part where I wrote: "I often travel to places where it is not so easy to pick up a bottle"

3. "Why would mouthwash do anything for plaque? It's just 20% alcohol and sweet stuff." Actually there is research that listerine does reduce plaque. Not as much as flossing, but it does help and flossing doesn't get everywhere that liquid can. I have not seen research that alcohol works as well.

4. "Salt + water = plaque killer" If true this is genuinely useful information and may solve my problem. Anyone know of any scientific studies to back this up?

5. "why don't you just recycle the next travel-sized bottle you buy" Not sure how this would help if I can't buy anything to refill the bottle with. I don't mean to be snarky, by don't people read the questions before answering them?

6. "Salt water is the single most ubiquitous and widespread mouthwash on the planet." Again, this is really interesting and useful if true. Thanks.
posted by Kerim at 6:50 AM on December 20, 2008


I've done some research and it seems that salt water works well as a disinfectant, especially after an operation or injury on your gums, but I have not seen anything suggesting it is effective at reducing plaque. There is however, some evidence that the essential oils in listerine help reduce plaque.
posted by Kerim at 7:09 AM on December 20, 2008


I'm kinda surprised that you need Listerine to reduce plaque. When using an electric toothbrush (and I use a battery-powered Oral-B model that is easy to travel with), it is easy to brush my teeth until they are smooth as glass. Perhaps you should do some scientific experiments of your own using plaque disclosing tablets to see if you really need the mouthwash? Or to test other products?

This meta-analysis in JADA does suggest using multiple agents. It reports that toothpastes with triclosan (e.g. Colgate Total) or stannous fluoride (e.g. Crest Pro-Health) also have a proven antiplaque ability, although less than that of essential oil mouthwashes (the statistical significance of the difference is not reported). I should note that the stannous fluoride effect is weak enough that they say it might not be clinically significant.
posted by grouse at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2008


As to your second reply, salt water as a disinfectant would help with plaque. Plaque is a biofilm produced by bacteria, so anything that kills them off would reduce plaque.
posted by Gneisskate at 8:59 AM on December 20, 2008


Kerim, I love Listerine too, and I'm sorry you are having to defend it! :) To help the defense:
- Lots of studies into Listerine.
- American Dental Association statement in 2007 on antimicrobial mouth rinses.

For alternatives, you might look into products that contain chlorhexidine. In the US, Colgate PerioGard is one product (available by prescription). Perhaps one of these come in powder form, or in a concentrate that you can mix with another liquid.
posted by Houstonian at 9:19 AM on December 20, 2008


Wow, Kerim, moderating your own thread like that isn't exactly going to get people to leap to your assistance. Here's a product that's a mouthwash powder with lab results that might satisfy your obviously stringent demands - except it's not Listerine. Good luck.
posted by katie at 11:32 AM on December 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have you asked your dentist? Or called around to dentists in your area?
posted by Ookseer at 1:10 PM on December 20, 2008


Grouse: Thanks for linking to that study. I think it is important to remember that differences in body chemistry, eating habits, and jaw structure mean that there is no one solution which will work for everybody.

Gneisskate: Interesting. I'd still like to see some clinical studies though....

Houstonian: Thanks.

Katie: That looks like it might be just the thing I'm looking for! Thanks!
posted by Kerim at 7:52 PM on December 20, 2008


I think it is important to remember that differences in body chemistry, eating habits, and jaw structure mean that there is no one solution which will work for everybody.

Right, so what is it about your body chemistry, etc. that leads you to believe that brushing is not sufficient to remove plaque?
posted by grouse at 8:22 PM on December 20, 2008


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