In recent years certain manufacturers have been moving away from alcohol mouthwashes, offering alcohol-free alternatives for oral health.
Though mouthwashes containing alcohol have been prevalent for many years, there are some disadvantages of their repeated use.
There are useful enzymes in your saliva that help control bacteria buildup in your mouth. Those that suffer chronic dry mouth often have a harder time preventing cavities or gingivitis as these enzymes are largely absent during crucial times (such as sleeping).
Alcohol is a desiccant, meaning it dries the surface of things it comes in contact with. Regular use of alcohol containing mouthwashes can actually cause dry mouth (or make it worse for those already experiencing it.) While the mouthwash may kill a lot of the bacteria initially when used, the drawbacks of losing all the useful bacteria in the mouth can diminish the benefits of the mouthwash.
Repetitive use of alcohol in the mouth, much like tobacco use, has been linked to various forms of oral cancer. That “burn” we feel using alcohol mouthwash is irritating the oral tissue, destroying the natural balance of enzymes and minerals in the mouth that actually helps with good oral health.
Studies have gone back and forth on whether alcohol mouthwashes directly lead to oral cancer, but it is generally accepted that frequent contact with alcohol does increase the chances of oral cancer.
The Move Away From Alcohol Mouthwash
Alternatives such as Listerine Zero have become popular largely because they advertise “no burn”. This is an attractive feature in itself as many really don’t care for the discomfort of alcohol mouthwash.
Aside avoiding the burn of alcohol, these newer alternatives do not destroy the useful bacteria and enzymes in the mouth, which creates the best of both worlds. You’ll be killing off plaque-causing bacteria and leaving a good portion of the useful elements in place in your mouth.