Corsodyl mouthwash escapes ASA wrath

By Michelle Yeomans contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Oral hygiene

Corsodyl mouthwash escapes ASA wrath
GlaxoSmithKline narrowly missed the wrath of the UK Advertising Standards Agency after it was called in to investigate complaints that an ad for its Corsodyl mouthwash was irresponsible and misleading.  

The TV ad under question featured a woman getting ready for a night out, brushing her teeth and then spitting into the sink in which there was then a little blood.

A voice-over then stated "We wouldn't ignore blood from any other part of our body, so why do we ignore it from our gums? If you spit blood when brushing your teeth it could be an early sign of gum disease​".

Before adding; "Corsodyl mint mouth wash. Clinically proven to treat gum disease. Because, after all a missing tooth is harder to ignore. Corsodyl. For people who spit blood when they brush their teeth​.” 

A magazine ad for the product also came under question which featured an image of a woman putting on mascara with blood dripping from the corner of her eye next to text which stated "You wouldn't ignore this​."

Whilst further text stated: "If you split blood when you brush your teeth, it could be an early sign of gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss​.”

The ASA received a total of five complainants, including a dental nurse and dental hygienist, who challenged whether the ads misleadingly implied that Corsodyl could treat all types of gum disease, including periodontitis; and were irresponsible because they encouraged consumers to self-diagnose.


On contacting GlaxoSmithKline, it informed the ASA that the mouthwash was a licensed medicine containing 0.2 per cent w/v chlorhexidine digluconate as the active ingredient which has literature supporting its effective use as an anti-plaque agent and how it has often been considered to be the 'gold standard' ingredient in dentistry.

They added that the product was an aid in the treatment and prevention of gingivitis and that it could also be used in the maintenance of oral hygiene, particularly in situations where tooth brushing could not be adequately used.

Before finally explaining that once a patient had displayed signs of gum disease, a mouthwash such as Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash could be used as an adjunct to daily oral hygiene measures to treat it.

Not upheld

Based on the brand's response and its own investigative efforts, The ASA stated that it understood it was common for gingivitis to be treated with over the counter mouth washes containing chlorhexidine digluconate and that treatment at this stage could be used to prevent the development of periodontitis.

"We considered that ads (a) and (b) made clear that the product was for those with bleeding gums (when brushing) and noted it made no reference to the treatment of any other symptoms."

It also considered that within the context of the ads in their entirety, it was made clear that the product was only suitable for the use of individuals who had blood in their spit when brushing.

And that furthermore, both ads contained the text "Always read the label"​ and noted product labelling made clear that if the symptoms persisted beyond the recommended treatment time, consumers should consult their dentist.

"We therefore considered that the suggestion that consumers self-diagnose and self-medicate for the specific symptom referred to was not irresponsible and concluded that ads (a) and (b) did not breach the Code."

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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