The Effects of Alcohol-Based Mouthwash on Oral Health

The oral microbiome consists of bacteria residing in the mouth, which aid in food digestion and maintain oral health. Alterations in the composition of this bacterial community have been associated with periodontal diseases and certain types of cancer. According to a study in the Journal of Medical Microbiology the findings suggest that alcohol-based mouthwash could affect the levels of bacteria in the mouth.

Alcohol-based mouthwashes are commonly used by the public for daily oral hygiene, such as combating bad breath or preventing periodontitis. However, it’s important to be informed about the potential risks of their use.

Researchers have discovered that daily use of alcohol-based mouthwash significantly increases the abundance of two aggressive bacterial species in the mouth. These bacteria are associated with various diseases, including gum disease, and cancers of the esophagus and colon. It was also observed a reduction in a group of bacteria known as Actinobacteria, which play a key role in regulating blood pressure.

Many mouthwashes sold include alcohol, which may cause a short-lived burning feeling, a bad taste, and dryness in the mouth. This alcohol not only kills harmful bacteria but also the beneficial ones. On the other hand, mouthwashes without alcohol don’t eliminate all bacteria but rather help establish an alternative balance with the bacteria in the mouth.

It’s crucial to note that mouthwash use does not directly cause cancer. Alcohol-containing mouthwash might contribute to increased risk when combined with other factors such as smoking, heavy alcohol use, or poor diet, but research does not indicate that it is a sole cause of cancer. Although studies show that daily use of alcohol-based mouthwash can alter the oral microbiome, researchers are cautious about drawing definitive conclusions from these findings.

Alcohol-based mouthwash may be safe to use for short periods, but based on the findings and other types of evidence, long-term use is not recommended.

To view the original scientific study click below:
The effect of daily usage of Listerine Cool Mint mouthwash on the oropharyngeal microbiome: a substudy of the PReGo trial