You probably already know that you should be using a mouthwash if you want to keep your mouth healthy. In addition to stopping bacteria in its tracks, mouthwash does a great job of removing plaque and debris from between your teeth and along your gumline, places you might miss with just brushing and flossing. But does an alcohol-based mouthwash perform better than alcohol-free varieties? And how much of a danger does the alcohol in mouthwash pose? Here’s what you need to know.
Why Mouthwash is a Critical Part of Caring for Your Mouth
Using a daily mouthwash is a great way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Mouthwash can easily slip between teeth and below gums, dislodging hard-to-reach food particles and plaque. Plus, mouthwash is a fantastic way to kill oral bacteria before they have a chance to inflame and infect your gums – making it an effective way to prevent periodontal disease. And if your mouthwash contains fluoride, it can help to prevent cavities by re-mineralizing your teeth. All in all, a good mouthwash plays an integral role in keeping your mouth in great shape.
The Dangers of Alcohol-Based Mouthwash
Although mouthwash is an important part of a good oral care regimen, not all mouthwashes are created equal. Alcohol-based mouthwash poses a variety of dangers that could impact your oral health. First and most concerning, using an alcohol-based mouthwash may put you at an increased risk of developing oral cancer. The extremely high concentration of alcohol in mouthwash and the fact that your mouth is exposed to that alcohol for up to 60 seconds at a time means you may be introducing a high amount of powerful carcinogens into your mouth.
One Australian study found that if you use mouthwash more than three times a day, you’re at a significantly increased risk of developing oral cancer. The research is mixed, but in general, most studies have found at least a slightly increased risk of oral cancer in people who use mouthwash. Some studies have also found that alcohol-based mouthwash can cause ulcers and destroy fillings.
Try These Alcohol-Free Mouthwash Brands
Although alcohol-based mouthwash does pose some risks, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a mouthwash at all. There are lots of great alcohol-free mouthwashes on the market that can give you all the benefits of mouthwash with none of the risks. Chlorhexidine rinses like Peridex can be useful in treating gum disease. However, chlorhexidine mouthwash can cause stains to develop on your teeth, which is why it’s usually reserved only for people receiving treatment from their dentist for periodontal disease – and why you need a prescription to get it.
For a safe mouthwash you can use every day as part of your regular oral care regimen, try Listerine Zero or Listerine Total Care Zero. These alcohol-free mouthwashes use a combination of essential oils and fluoride to kill bacteria, protect your enamel, and keep your gums healthy.
Alcohol-based mouthwashes can be dangerous, which is why most dentists recommend using an alcohol-free mouthwash. Your dentist can help you to determine whether a standard mouthwash like Listerine Zero is right for you or whether you need a stronger chlorhexidine rinse. To learn more about mouthwashes, or to book an appointment with Dr. Badie and determine what mouthwash is right for you, call Badie Dental at (520) 325-3022.