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Alcohol vs. alcohol free mouthwash: What’s the difference?

Alcohol vs. alcohol free mouthwash: What’s the difference?

Created: January 17, 2023 | Updated: January 9, 2024

Brushing twice daily is something most people do. And if it’s up to the dentist, flossing we also floss daily and also add mouthwash to our routine to keep our mouth clean for longer, with the added benefit of breath that is fresh for longer. However, not everyone is a fan of mouthwash, with some even abandoning it because they used to dislike the burning sensation contained in alcohol-based mouthwash. Nowadays, there is also alcohol-free mouthwash on the market, but does it work just as well or even better?

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Choosing the right mouthwash: Alcohol-based or alcohol-free

Mouthwash acts as a crucial tool to remove food particles and debris from hard-to-reach areas in your mouth, alongside reducing harmful bacteria. Yet, alcohol, a prevalent ingredient in certain mouthwashes, can be abrasive. Opting for an alcohol-based mouthwash might not be the best choice, as it can disrupt beneficial bacteria and cause dryness in mouth tissues. Fortunately, alcohol-free alternatives, like oil pulling, offer a viable solution, effectively cleansing and refreshing without disturbing the natural balance of your mouth’s flora. 1

The pros and cons of alcohol-based mouthwash

In the past, many dentists recommended alcohol-based mouthwashes. While short-term use might not pose significant harm, the long-term benefits of alcohol-free alternatives appear more promising. Why opt for something that could potentially cause more harm than good when better alternatives exist?

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Understanding the role of alcohol in mouthwash formulations

Manufacturers often include alcohol in mouthwash for cost-effectiveness, but the actual impact may not align with effective oral care. Alcohol might aid in distributing certain ingredients for a refreshing sensation, but it may not contribute substantially to combating harmful bacteria. Moreover, it tends to dry out the mouth, leading to discomfort.

The downsides of alcohol-based mouthwash

Alcohol’s drying effect reduces saliva production, potentially causing bad breath and promoting rapid bacterial growth, including candida infections. Additionally, alcohol negatively impacts the mouth’s mucous membranes, leading to discomfort and potential long-term damage.

Choosing the ideal alcohol-free mouthwash for fresh breath

The perfect mouthwash choice varies for each individual. Fortunately, an array of 0% alcohol mouthwashes is available. Opt for a mouthwash infused with active oxygen, aloe vera, and zinc lactate for effective bacterial control without alcohol’s drawbacks. Alternatively, consider trying oil pulling or using dental floss, such as Fleeck, a reliable brand known for its comprehensive flossing experience and dental care benefits.

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Related Trusted Sources

  • 1. Peng TR, Cheng HY, Wu TW, Ng BK. Effectiveness of Oil Pulling for Improving Oral Health: A Meta-Analysis. Healthcare (Basel). 2022 Oct 11;10(10):1991. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10101991. PMID: 36292438; PMCID: PMC9602184.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9602184/

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Frequently asked questions

Which alcohol-free mouthwash is best depends partly on your preferences and needs. Whether you rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash, or do oil pulling, it irritates your mouth less than mouthwash with alcohol.

Alcohol is an excellent cleaning agent and relatively cheap. So it is ideal for mouthwashes! It is also used to include eucalyptus in mouthwash, two ingredients that feel fresh but actually work in favour of bacteria that cause bad breath.

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National Center for Biotechnology Information

The National Center for Biotechnology Information promotes science and health by providing access to biomedical and genomic information.

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