The position of dentists on the use of mouthwash can be quite confusing. Are they for it or against it? On the one hand you hear about how great mouthwash is, and how it can get everywhere that a toothbrush can’t, and can neutralise bacteria, on the other hand it is bad for the mouth and causes cancer. Which one is it, then? Should patients use mouthwash, and if so, what kind? In this article, we wish to shed some light on these questions.
Mouthwash and oral cancer
In a relatively recent study, the link between excessive mouthwash use and oral cancer was brought to light, and there is a strong correlation, meaning that even if the mouthwash didn’t cause the cancer directly, it certainly had a significant role in the formation of oral cancer. But other problems have been attributed to the overuse of mouthwash as well; mouthwash dries out the mucus membranes of the mouth, can inflame the gums, causes tooth sensitivity and can cause cold sores and other outbreaks in the mouth.
Not all mouthwash!
It is interesting to note that all of these problems are attributed to mouthwash which has alcohol as a main ingredient. Alcohol is slightly carcinogenic, causes dryness of the mouth, dries out mucus membranes and is in general not very good for your health. But many mouthwash manufacturers have gotten rid of alcohol as a main ingredient, and are using more biocompatible and friendly products as an active bactericide. So it is not true that these problems are necessarily a result of using mouthwash.
How to use them
In interpreting all of these studies, we have found two very important facts. The problems outlined are always the result of overuse of alcoholic mouthwash. This should be no surprise; we are talking about an abrasive chemical substance that was used many times a day excessively.
Instead of using alcohol based mouthwash excessively, do these instead; get some mouthwash that is alcohol free but effective, and use it twice a day. Once in the morning, and once at night, directly after you floss and brush, to get to all of the hard to reach areas, and to wash out any of the plaque and tartar that may have been loosened but not quite removed. This should not dry out your mouth, hurt your gums or cause oral cancer.