Good Question: Why Is Cetylpyridinium Chloride In My Mouthwash?

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tonight on Good Question, a concern from KAKE viewer Mary Taylor.

She’s been using Crest Pro-Health mouthwash. She discovered that the active ingredient is something called CPC, or cetylpyridinium chloride. CPC is toxic and is also used in things like pesticides. Mary wants to know why it’s in mouthwash, and why there is no warning on the bottle.

It’s true, CPC is an active ingredient in Crest Pro-Health, but it’s also an active ingredient in other brands of mouthwash and toothpaste, too. The reason? It’s an antiseptic that prevents plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath.

But Mary is correct, it has been used in pesticides and other things you may not want to associate with dental health. It’s also toxic if you swallow it.

Mary wants to know why, at the very least, there is not a warning label about CPC on the bottle. That’s because it’s approved by the American Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says it’s safe in mouthwash, so no warning is needed.

CPC can cause brown stains between the teeth and on the surface of teeth. It can also, according to Crest, temporarily change the flavor of your food.

If you have a good question, send it to me at or find me on Twitter at I’ll answer your good question every Thursday on KAKE News at 10.

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