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Various Listerine products

Listerine is a brand name for antiseptic mouthwash. Its original formula has notoriously strong flavor, although variations have been released that are marketed as tasting milder. The product is marketed under the slogan "Kills germ that cause bad breath". It was named after Joseph Lister who promoted the idea of sterile surgery by sterilizing instruments.

Listerine is one of the most popular mouthwashes sold in the United Statesmarker. Originally marketed by the Lambert Pharmacal Company (which later became Warner-Lambert), it is currently manufactured and distributed by Johnson and Johnsonmarker since that company's acquisition of Pfizer's consumer healthcare division in late December 2006.

The Listerine brand name is also used on toothpaste, Listerine Whitening rinse, new Listerine Fluoride rinse (Listerine Tooth Defense), Listerine Agent Cool Blue (children's plaque disclosing rinse), PocketPaks, and PocketMist. In September 2007, Listerine began selling their own brand of self-dissolving teeth whitening strips.

== History == Scintist have found that listerine destroys your tast buds.First formulated by Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Jordan Wheat Lambert in 1879 as surgical antiseptic, it was given to dentists for oral care in 1895 and it was the first over-the-counter mouthwash sold in the United States in 1914. The mouthwash was named in honor of Dr. Joseph Lister, pioneer of antiseptic surgery.

According to Freakonomics:

From 1921 until the mid-1970s Listerine was also marketed as preventive and remedy for cold 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 specific mention that "contrary to prior advertising, Listerine will not help prevent colds or sore throats or lessen their severity."

For a short time, beginning in 1927, the Lambert Pharmaceutical Company even marketed Listerine Cigarettes.

1930s advertisements claimed that applying Listerine to the scalp could prevent dandruff.

Listerine was packaged in glass bottle inside 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. In 1995, FreshBurst was added, then in 2003 Natural Citrus. In 2006 a new addition to the "less intense" variety, Vanilla Mint, was released. Currently, eight different kinds of Listerine are on the market in the U.S. and elsewhere: Original, Cool Mint, FreshBurst, Natural Citrus, Vanilla Mint, Advanced with Tartar Control (Arctic mint), Tooth Defense (mint shield), and Whitening pre-brush rinse (clean mint). The most recent addition is the Listerine Total Care, marketed as the Most Complete Listerine. It claims to reduce plaque, strengthen teeth to prevent cavities, prevent tartar build-up to keep teeth white, prevent gingivitis, and freshen breath for up to 12 hours.


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 26.9% in the original gold Listerine Antiseptic. Thymol is an antiseptic, methyl salicylate is cleaning agent, and menthol is local anesthetic. At this concentration, the ethanol serves to dissolve the active ingredients. Contrary to persistent myths, methanol (which is frequently confused with menthol) is not an ingredient.

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 GAME 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. By the same coin, however, this treatment is generally ineffective at physically removing the plaque buildup and wedged-in food particles that it is intended to neutralize. 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. (The label of the new whitening pre-rinse recommends consumers use one of the other Listerine formulas for fighting plaque.)

In a January 6, 2005 decision, Judge Chin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that an advertising campaign by Pfizer, claiming that the mouthwash Listerine is as effective as flossing in fighting tooth and gum decay, is false and misleading and poses a public health risk.


There has been concern that the use of alcohol-containing mouthwash such as Listerine may increase the risk of developing 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. Studies conducted in 1985, 1995, and 2003 summarize that alcohol-containing mouth rinses are not associated with oral cancer. However, an extensive study published December 2008 in the Australian Dental Journal concluded that:

Andrew Penman, chief executive of The Cancer Council New South Wales, called for further research on the matter.

On April 11, 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.


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