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Mouthwash: What’s the Difference Between Alcohol vs. Without?

 In Family Dentistry

For many who practice good oral hygiene habits, you brush and you floss regularly, and sometimes (maybe even every day), you decide to go that extra mile and add a little something more to your routine – mouthwash.  Mouthwash, after all, is a great thing to add to your routine, as it works to add extra protection against decay, plaque, bad breath and gingivitis. But, how do you decide which mouthwash to use? Do you opt for the one with alcohol or the one without?  Is there even a difference?

Let’s take a closer look at both, and break it down:

Mouthwash With Alcohol

If you didn’t read the label, and it was just a grab-and-go, you will definitely know that you’ve chosen a mouthwash that contains alcohol when you gargle with it, as it will have that familiar, slight burning sensation.  In fact, many people believe that because of this “burning sensation,” it means the mouthwash is really working to clean your mouth. But, what you need to understand is that its “working” power actually lies in the ingredients, and this is what makes the difference in a quality mouthwash, not the sensation.  

Alcohol can certainly kill bacteria but mostly just superficial bacteria.  It can’t reach the more harmful bacteria that’s found deep beneath your gum line.  Alcohol can also have an adverse effect. Even in the smallest amounts, as is contained in mouthwash (with alcohol), it can harm the soft tissues in your mouth.  Alcohol is also a drying agent, so if you’re using a mouthwash that contains alcohol, you may find that your mouth isn’t producing the same amount of saliva as it normally would.  It can even eliminate saliva output altogether resulting in dry mouth. This, of course, is not a good thing, as your mouth requires saliva to flush out all of the bacteria to stay fresh and cavity-free.     

Mouthwash Without Alcohol

With the use of mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol, your mouth is able to produce saliva normally.  This obviously contributes to the overall maintenance of your smile, as it helps it remain clean and fresh longer.  This is what you want in a good mouthwash. In addition to an alcohol-free rinse, you might look for one that contains fluoride, an ingredient that can help keep your teeth strong and minimize tooth sensitivity.  

Alcohol-free mouthwash is also safer for any dental fillings or restorations that you might have.  This particularly helps to maintain the overall color, hardness, gloss and wear of any work that’s been done on your smile.  The ultimate proactive protection, of course, is to keep up with your daily oral care routine with brushing and flossing. This is how you achieve optimum results.  And, if you throw in a non-alcohol mouthwash rinse too, it will all work to help maintain your healthy smile.

Talk to your trusty dentist to learn more about which mouthwashes are best for your smile, and if you have any questions concerning your dental health, call our office.  We’ll work to address all of your needs and concerns to keep your oral health in check.

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