Listerine Agent Cool Blue is Ineffective

It is not too often that I feel a North American “off the shelf” health product in Canada is fraudulent. Bending the truth, some may be, but for true lying through your teeth, snake oil-type fraud, no, I have come across few. At a recent trip to my dentist with my little weed I discussed diagnostic aids with my dentist. If there were only some way I could highlight his bad technique I could help him brush better. I recalled in my youth some red tablets that you can chew. My dentist said these “disclosing tablets” are still available, and still used on kids. Newer disclosing solutions were now available from drug stores, much easier to use and fun for kids. I found Listerine Agent Cool Blue at Pharmaplus for $5.50CAD, “tints plaque for better brushing” it says right on the bottle, in glacier mint. I have found this solution to be not only ineffective, but fraudulent. It does not tint sufficiently to actually allow you to see plaque. For helping me improve my son’s brushing technique it is useless. Please do not purchase this product, as it is useless for highlighting plaque.

Listerine, made by Johnston & Johnston Inc. are a reputable brand and company, so I was surprised at the fraudulent nature of their claim. Note that packaging and claims on the bottle in Canada are different from the USA. On the back of the bottle it claims:

LISTERINE AGENT COOL BLUE Plaque Detecting Rinse is effective in highlighting plaque to improve tooth brushing effectiveness in children.” CANADIAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION

Directions: Children age 6 years and older: Rinse twice daily before brushing showing you where to brush!

While the solution lightly tints the teeth and mouth, it insufficiently tints plaque and food buildup so that you see no difference between teeth that have no buildup and teeth that need to be brushed. If one looks incredibly hard with a magnifying glass, at the right angle of light I can see a shading difference between clean and dirty surfaces of the teeth, but I can do this without the solution as well. After two mouthfuls of rinse the tint is gone, or so light as to be indiscernible.

Listerine Agent Cool Blue does not tint sufficiently to identify plaque. It is totally ineffective and fraudulent as a dental diagnostic tool.

Listerine Agent Cool Blue does not tint sufficiently to identify plaque. It is totally ineffective and fraudulent as a dental diagnostic tool.

Woe is me that I did not research this product before purchase. I was looking for disclosing solution as directed by my dentist and could not find anything. When I found this solution I purchased it. There are others that have stated this product is fraudulent.

On the front of the bottle it says that it is a “tinting rinse.” As you will see below, I find it to be a very poor tinting rinse simply because it is not very noticeable and because it is so easily removed. I also believe most people are disappointed with it simply because most people assume that Agent Cool Blue dyes plaque, like traditional plaque disclosing solutions. source

Listerine Agent Cool Blue slightly tints the teeth, does not highlight plaque

Listerine Agent Cool Blue slightly tints the teeth, does not highlight plaque

This stuff does not do what I thought it does. I thought it stuck to plaque and showed the really nasty areas. My brother and I used some red disclosing solution as kids – I thought that’s what this was. Brush your teeth, use the red stuff, see how poor a job you did.

This just dyes everything pale blue. I guess in theory you have to brush everything to get all the blue off but it comes off very easily so it really doesn’t do much good. source

Initially I had my little weed squeeze 10ml from the bottle and swish for 30 seconds, before brushing. Other than the slight blue tint I saw no appreciable difference; I saw no plaque or stained food particles. I had him brush with toothpaste and the blue was gone. Undeterred I tried it on myself, with the same results: slight blue tint, no highlighted plaque, and the tint easily washes away. This product is ineffective.

Here are some contrasting photos of Agent Cool Blue. Before brushing I had my little weed swish for 30 seconds with 10ml of Agent Cool Blue, after which I took a photo. I had him rinse three times with water only and the tint was gone. No brushing is necessary. I then used half a tablet of GUM Red-cote dental disclosing tablet and had him chew and swish it around. I then took a photo. The difference is remarkable. The Agent Cool Blue is ineffective. The red disclosing tablet clearly shows plaque and food deposits. This is proof enough for me that I need red disclosing tablets.

Listerine Agent Cool Blue: Before brushing, swish 10ml for 30 seconds. The blue dye is slight and does not highlight plaque. Rinse 3 times with water and the blue dye is gone, no brushing necessary.

Listerine Agent Cool Blue: Before brushing, swish 10ml for 30 seconds. The blue dye is slight and does not highlight plaque. Rinse 3 times with water and the blue dye is gone, no brushing necessary.

GUM Red-Cote dental disclosing tablets: Before brushing, chewed and swished half a tablet. Plaque and food are clearly stained. This is an excellent dental diagnostic tool I will use on my kids and myself to promote better brushing technique.

GUM Red-Cote dental disclosing tablets: Before brushing, chewed and swished half a tablet. Plaque and food are clearly stained. This is an excellent dental diagnostic tool I will use on my kids and myself to promote better brushing technique.

Listerine Agent Cool Blue clearly does not stand up to the clarity and quality of staining done by the GUM Red-Cote dental disclosing tablets. If you want to help your kids improve their tooth brushing and flossing technique you will chose the GUM Red-Cote.

I called up Johnston & Johnston’s consumer line here in Canada at 1-800-661-4659, as written on the bottle, and explained my dissatisfaction. They said they will mail me a refund. To their credit they took responsibility but should not be selling something that states “tints plaque”, when it clearly does not.

Kids need help with their toothbrushing and flossing technique. As parents teach them well and the rewards are less cavities, fewer dental issues and better gums and teeth for your kids. This is a worthy and attainable goal. Listerine Agent Cool Blue will not be part of my family’s dental plan.

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