The natural remedy for foul oral odor is parsley, thanks to its high concentration of chlorophyll.
However, to see the commercial alternatives, I went to Duane Reade. Being a fan of the underdog, I picked up a bottle of the second most-popular brand of mouthwash, Scope. (Scope = made by Procter & Gamble = underdog?)
What’s in Scope?
Try: “Water, alcohol, glycerin, flavor, polysorbate 80, sodium saccharin, sodium benzoate, cetylpyridinium chloride, benzoic acid, blue 1, yellow 5.” (Free cooking lesson to the first person who e-mails me the molecular structure of cetylpyridinium chloride. No Googling, please. By the way, it's also been used as an ingredient in certain pesticides, but that's not important right now.)
I then visited a farmers market to ask one of my buddies, a farmer in New Jersey, the ingredients in his parsley ($1.50 a bunch).
"Hey, Ron, what are the ingredients in your parsley?"
“Parsley,” Ron said.
Back to the Scope ($3.59 for 8.4 fluid ounces, $5.19 for 33.8 fl. oz.). On the back of the bottle is the following capitalized warning: “CAUTION: IN CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INGESTION, SEEK PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE OR CONTACT A POISON CONTROL CENTER IMMEDIATELY.”
“Hey, Ron, what should I do if I accidentally ingest parsley?”
Needing more information about Scope, I called its toll free number (1-800-862-7442). Immediately after pressing “1” to continue in English, a euphonious female voice (recorded) informed me that “Scope does not have an expiration date and can be kept both open and unopened for about three years from the date it was manufactured.”
“Hey, Ron, for how many days will this parsley stay good?”
“Four or five days in the fridge.”
After pressing “0” to speak with the next available representative, I asked Phyllis what exactly constituted Scope’s “FLAVOR.”
“What kind of Scope?” Phyllis asked.
“The Original Mint.”
“Can you hold one second?”
Eleven seconds later, Phyllis returned.
“The flavor is Scope’s special blend of peppermint, spearmint, anise, cassia, clove bud oil, es . . . estra . . . estragole, menthyl . .. I’ll spell this one for you . . . m-e-n-t-h-y-l-s-a-l-i-c-y-l-a-t-e . . .”
I stopped taking notes at this point.
On top of everything, commercial mouthwashes don’t actually cure bad breath, but just mask it for a limited time. Mouthwashes with alcohol can lead to a dry mouth, a breeding ground for additional malodorous bacteria.
Alas, if you still want to use Scope, do yourself a favor and buy the Cool Peppermint flavor. It’s slightly less toxic than Original Mint, since it doesn’t contain yellow 5.
There’s probably a laboratory rat somewhere that owes its life to being the Cool Peppermint taste tester rather than the Original Mint one.