Alcohol-Based Mouthwash and Your Teeth


Mouthwash is important in maintaining good oral hygiene, as it helps kill bacteria and remove plaque from hard-to-reach places. But should you be using a mouthwash that contains alcohol, or go for one without alcohol?

When you use an alcohol-based mouthwash, you may feel it is an effective way to “kill the germs that cause bad breath,” but the alcohol content is actually taking a toll on your teeth.

In some cases, like post-orthodontic treatment, occasional use of alcohol-based mouthwashes may be okay, but regular use should be avoided. Try opting for an alcohol-free alternative formulated specifically for daily use without any of the long-term risks associated with ethanol exposure. Alcohol-free options are just as effective at killing germs and freshening breath while being gentler on teeth and gums.

Why Is Alcohol-Based Mouthwash Bad for Your Teeth?

Alcohol-based mouthwashes can kill bacteria that cause bad breath, reduce plaque buildup, and prevent cavities. Still, they negatively affect your oral health in the long term.

Alcohol is very acidic. Higher acid levels break down the enamel of your teeth. The high concentration of ethanol (a type of alcohol) dries out the natural oils and protective layers in your mouth. This makes it difficult for saliva to fight the bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay.

Ethanol also weakens dental adhesives, leading to premature degradation of your current restorations like crowns, bridges, and veneers. Also, since tumours develop in acidic environments, alcohol-based mouthwash increases the chance of developing oral cancer.

Alternatives and Non-Alcohol-Based Mouthwashes

Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day is an effective way to keep your breath fresh and ensure that your teeth stay healthy and strong. Doing so in the morning and evening will help remove plaque buildup, food particles, and bacteria that can cause tooth decay and bad breath.

But it is a great addition if you prefer adding mouthwash to your routine to fight bacteria and freshen your breath. But not all mouthwashes are the same. It’s important to look for an alcohol-free anti-plaque/anti-gingivitis mouthwash or natural mouthwash, as these won’t dry out your mouth or irritate any existing gum inflammation. This kind of mouthwash can also reduce the risk of developing cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.

Using a mouthwash, sugar-free gum, or mints with xylitol can also be helpful for keeping your breath fresh. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has been shown to reduce cavity formation by preventing bacteria from sticking to teeth surfaces. It also helps produce saliva, essential for washing away food particles and plaque buildup.

Swishing for 30 seconds after brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste will help ensure you receive all the benefits from your chosen product. However, it is important to remember never to swallow your mouthwash; its intended purpose is to kill bacteria in your mouth only!

When you visit Yaletown Dentistry in Vancouver, we can give you the best advice for optimal daily dental care.

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Conveniently located in the Yaletown district of downtown Vancouver, our dental services are comprised of highly trained dental professionals that cater to all ages, from infants to the elderly. Whether you want a thorough cleaning or need more complex dental treatments, we believe we are the best dentists in Vancouver. We pride ourselves on gentle and painless dental services and provide free evaluations. Go online and book an appointment, or give us a call.


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Yaletown Dentistry, established in 1999, is committed to providing quality oral health care. We are independently owned and operated, and committed to excellence in dental care. 

We use the latest technology and continually update our techniques and procedures to ensure the best care for our clients.

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