Alcohol in Mouthwashes. They may be doing more harm than good.



Mouthwash – Do you want ice and a slice with that?

In history, alcohol has been used as a steriliser and anaesthetic. Until the use of opiates and heat sterilisation became common, alcohol was in every doctor’s medical bag. Alcohol kills pretty much every bacteria it comes into contact with and this was very useful in preventing infection. The added bonus of alcohol as a rapid anaesthetic is also well documented.

However, this has its limitations – especially in the use of mouthwashes. Killing all the bacteria in your mouth, both wanted and unwanted, with one gargle of a mouthwash is an unnecessary massacre. Additional to this, although obviously not intended to be ingested, there are concerns over the regular use of mouthwashes containing alcohol. Such as links to oral cancers, the potential to provide a positive breathalyser sample for up to 20 minutes after use (alcohol levels in mouthwashes can top 30% proof), or doing damage to other parts of your body – mainly your liver and kidneys. With this in mind, it may be a good idea to look for non-alcoholic alternatives… Thankfully most mouthwash manufacturers now have alcohol free versions.

It is also important to remember that mouthwash is not a cure-all solution for your oral health, but should be used as part of a wider routine that involves diet, flossing and regular tooth brushing. I’m sure you will have heard this all before, but a complete routine is what makes the difference for good oral care. Also different mouthwashes will offer different benefits, so it can be necessary to ask why you are using a mouthwash in the first place? That’s why, at Bancroft Dentistry, we offer a number of alcohol free mouthwashes to suit your needs… just ask your dentist or hygienist for their recommendation next time you are here!

Best wishes


Dr Frank Goulbourn

Bancroft Dentistry




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