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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pearl E. Whites

Can Toothpaste Affect Breathalyzer Test Results?

In 2009 Senator Anthony Galluccio failed a breathalyzer test after his 3rd DUI and blamed it on the ingredients of his toothpaste for setting it off! Would oral care products really cause that though?

 

WHAT BREATHALYZERS MEASURE

Breathalyzer tests from the police and Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) in cars require you to blow into a device that interprets alcohol content in your breath. Both measure ethyl alcohol, which is found in beer and wine, but also in a few mouthwashes and toothpastes! These alcohol markers in oral care products do NOT enter your bloodstream but the ingredient's residue in your mouth can set off a false positive with a breathalyzer test.

 

CAN ORAL CARE PRODUCTS CAUSE ME TO FAIL MY TEST?

Yes, especially with toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain ethyl alcohol. There are several

ingredients in oral health products that are not true alcohols but can still set off false positives: xylitol, isopropyl alcohol, and sorbitol. Half of all toothpastes in the USA contain sorbitol, which hydrates the mouth. Taking a breathalyzer test immediately after using oral care products with any of these ingredients, the alcohol breath score may raise from 0.0% to 0.04%--half way to the legal alcoholic limit of 0.08%. As long as no alcohol is consumed this is NOT going to set the test alarms off though.

 

HOW MUCH ALCOHOL ARE IN SOME ORAL CARE PRODUCTS?

IID are more sensitive than breathalyzer tests. While the breathalyzer test identifies blood alcohol content at 0.08%, an IID will shut your car down at 0.02%. Some mouthrinses contain more alcohol than beer and wine, and trace amounts of mouthwash detected may shut your car down immediately after use. The four most alcohol-concentrated mouthwashes are: Listerine Total Care and Cool Mint, Equate Tartar Control and Antiseptic Mouthrinse. We had a patient rinse with Peridex mouthwash after her dental cleaning. Getting into her car she breathed into her IID and it registered a false positive and shut her car down!


HOW LONG DO THE EFFECTS LAST?

Research has shown that the alcoholic ingredients in oral care products dissipate after 10 to  15 minutes of use. Not sure who is using mouthwash or brushing teeth that soon from getting arrested? If using mouthwash or toothpaste that contains alcohol we suggest waiting at least 15 minutes before blowing into a breathylzer or IID.

 

WHAT TO USE AND NOT USE

If you attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or you do not want to set off the breathalyzer test, we highly suggest these mouthwashes that do not have sorbitol, alcohol, or xylitol in them that can create a negative score to your breathing test:

So feel comfortable using this mouthwash right as you get pulled over without any hesitation:

  • Therabreath: Healthy Gums, Healthy Smile, Fresh Breath, Whitening

  • OxyFresh Gentle Formula


TOOTHPASTE

These toothpastes contain trace amounts of alcohol so if you plan on getting pulled over any time soon, avoid brushing with these:


Aim (all flavors), Crest with Scope as an ingredient, Crest Premium Plus Sensitive, Crest Pro Health Advanced Gum Restore, Jason Simply Coconut, Moon, Weleda (Calendula, Plant Gel, Ratanhia, and Salt).

Only about 50 toothpastes in the USA market do NOT contain known ingredients that effect the IID so feel comfortable using any one of these prior to breathing into a machine shortly after brushing:

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