Is my mouthwash harmful?

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Many people use mouthwash every day. Some people even use mouthwash several times a day! The question is: Does mouthwash do more harm than good?

We are taught to swish with mouthwash for 30 seconds before spitting and to avoid rinsing with water immediately after. However, many mouthwashes contain alcohol — a lot of alcohol. For example, The Original Listerine contains 26.9%, Crest Scope 18.9%, and Cepacol 14%.

Why is there alcohol in mouthwash?

Alcohol is added to mouthwash to act as a carrier agent for essential ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptol, and thymol. These ingredients help to penetrate plaque, and reducing plaque levels helps to keep the oral cavity healthy.

Some studies associate alcohol in mouthwash with an increased risk of oral and throat cancers, while others indicate no association at all. Other research has shown that alcohol makes the mouth cells’ more vulnerable to cancer causing agents.

Ultimately, alcohol is broken down in the mouth before it gets to our livers. This means that alcohol in mouthwash provides no unique health benefits and those products containing alcohol are no more effective than alcohol-free products.

Some of the effects of alcohol in the oral cavity may include:

  • Corroded fillings
  • Drying out of the oral tissues, gums, and cheeks
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Oral pain

Due to these concerns, many manufacturers are releasing alcohol-free varieties of mouthwashes.

Simon Pong Dentistry encourages our patients to rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash. Not only is this preferable for children and people with addiction concerns, but we believe it is the better option. There are many alcohol-free mouthwashes to choose from — just be sure to read the label to ensure it is alcohol-free.

If you have questions about your daily hygiene routine, contact the team at Simon Pong Dentistry. We are happy to answer all of your questions.

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