Alcohol-Based or Alcohol-Free Mouthwash: Which is Right for You?
When it comes to mouthwash, many people probably don’t think a lot about it. You rinse with it to keep your mouth feeling fresh and clean, to kill bacteria, and to get that minty taste. It’s possible you might not even know that alcohol-free mouthwashes are available, but they are out there and they can be the right choice for a lot of people. There are several reasons why you might want to use a mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol, but some of those reasons depend on your own personal health and what you feel comfortable with. We can help, by giving you some pros and cons to consider:
Alcohol-based mouthwash is exactly what it says it is: a mouthwash made with alcohol as the main or one of the main ingredients. This is the case with most types and brands of mouthwash on the market today, unless they’re specifically marketed for children. If you go into any store and buy mouthwash without really considering the brand, you’ll most likely come out of the store with an alcohol-based option. That’s because it’s easy to make these mouthwashes, and that “burn” they give makes people feel like they are getting their mouth very clean. But that burn may not really be a good thing.
It’s possible to find mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol, but you’ll have to look a little bit harder to locate it. It’s not as popular and it doesn’t sell as well in most markets, so your selection may be limited. Your pharmacy or local drug store might carry more options than a big chain retailer, and mouthwash that’s free of alcohol can also be bought online through trusted retailers. Not everyone will choose this option, of course, and not everyone needs to, but there are some pretty good reasons for people to consider alcohol-free mouthwash. We’ll give you just a few of them to think about.
What About the Cancer Risk?
Some studies have indicated that people who use alcohol-based mouthwash raise their risk of oral cancer. Other studies say there isn’t any link, and that the most probable reason for this correlation is that people who drink and smoke use mouthwash more frequently, so it looks like the mouthwash is tied to the cancer when it isn’t. You’ll have to be your own judge about these results, since there’s certainly room for interpretation of what these studies say. Just be aware that there is a possible link or tie between alcohol-based mouthwash use and oral cancer, although that link hasn’t been solidly proven by any studies to date.
Dry Mouth Suffers Should Take Note
If you suffer from a dry mouth, you may find that the alcohol-based mouthwash options are unnecessarily drying and cause more problems for you than alcohol-free choices. That’s not true for everyone with dry mouth, but alcohol does have a drying effect. You could find that your dry mouth symptoms get worse, or that you struggle to keep enough moisture in your mouth after using this kind of mouthwash. Overall, though, trying both options may be right for you so you can decide which works well. Not everyone will need an alcohol-free choice, even if they’ve been diagnosed with a dry mouth.
Your Mouth Needs a Balance of Bacteria
When you destroy bad bacteria in your mouth, you also destroy good bacteria, as well. That’s important to keep in mind, because alcohol-based mouthwashes don’t discriminate. They will get rid of all the bacteria in your mouth, and that means you lose the good bacteria that helps keep you healthy. Your mouth may feel clean, but you could be putting yourself at a higher disease risk simply because you use alcohol-based mouthwash. That’s worth considering, especially if you already have concerns about your oral health or you suffer from health conditions that may compromise any immune response you have.
Drinking Problems Can Be Significant
While it’s not a concern for most people, alcohol-free mouthwash is also an excellent choice for people who have had a drinking problem in the past, or are currently struggling to make sure they keep their sobriety on track. The alcohol in mouthwash can be a temptation, and it’s much better to stay away from those kinds of things if at all possible. When it comes to any drinking concerns only you can be the judge of what you need to do. Just know that there are alcohol-free options for you to use, if you need to make sure you’re protecting your health and sobriety the right way for your needs.
So, What’s the Bottom Line?
What it comes down to is this: there are definite reasons that some people would want to use alcohol-free mouthwash, and there are many people who don’t need to use it or wouldn’t think twice about it. Both make sense, depending on the person. If you have oral health issues, an alcohol problem (past or present), or you’re concerned about the potential cancer risk, dry mouth, or an imbalance of bacteria, you may want to choose alcohol-free mouthwash just for peace of mind.
If you don’t suffer from any of those issues or aren’t concerned about them, then the more commonly seen, alcohol-based mouthwash choices are probably just fine for you to use. Not sure which is the the better choice for your specific needs? Give us a call at 610-692-4440 to ask us more about oral hygiene and preventive dentistry best practices. We’ll be happy to help!