Many people assume that for a mouthwash to be effective, it must contain alcohol. But did you know that alcohol in mouthwash can actually be harmful to your oral health?
How Alcohol in Mouthwash is Harmful
Most commercial mouthwashes contain rather high concentrations of alcohol, even upwards of 26 percent for some brands. The alcohol found in mouthwash, typically ethanol, causes a burning or tingling sensation when you gargle with it, which many people associate with the product “working.” But this burning sensation is actually the result of the alcohol being a strong drying agent. Alcohol in mouthwash reduces the amount of saliva your mouth produces, but saliva is crucial for cleansing your mouth of bacteria and making it difficult for harmful bacteria to cling to your teeth and gums. As a result, the decrease in saliva production can lead to dry mouth, bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. Alcohol in mouthwash can also harm the soft tissues in your mouth and dry out mucous membranes, which causes heightened tooth and gum sensitivity. Finally, if you already suffer from bleeding gums, burning mouth syndrome, or other oral irritations, alcohol-based mouthwash can exacerbate these conditions.
Advantages of Alcohol-Free Mouthwash
Alcohol-free mouthwash maintains the natural balance of your saliva, meaning that your breath will be fresh, your mouth will still be able to fight harmful bacteria, and the enzymes found in saliva that aid in digestion will remain intact. Alcohol-free mouthwash is also less damaging to fillings and other restorative dental work than alcohol-based mouthwash. Finally, alcohol-free mouthwash is the better choice for people who already experience dry mouth as a side effect of certain medications or medical conditions since it will not dry out your mouth further, and it is safe for people with a history of alcohol abuse.
While alcohol in mouthwash may kill germs in the short term, it is counterproductive and harmful to your oral health in the long term. Contact our office to learn more.