The Effects of Mouthwashes

If you use mouthwash as part of your normal hygiene routine, you may want to reconsider. The average mouthwash from your local supermarket are actually up to 26% ethanol. In other words, you're actually gargling with a product that contains more alcohol than your last glass of wine.


The overuse of mouthwash is something that should be avoided at all cost. If you find yourself swishing continuously throughout the day, stop. You may be doing more harm than good and the consequence could be an overgrowth of bacteria. A Newsweek article explains that mouthwash doesn't actually kill bacteria in the mouth, as some might believe. Actually, mouthwash can cause an overgrowth of bacteria. The alcohol in mouthwash can cause a condition known as "dry mouth" when mouthwash is overused. This causes the number of bacteria in the mouth to increase.

Your Teeth

A little-known fact about alcohol-based mouthwashes is that they can stain your teeth. Not only that, but your favourite mouthwash may actually be responsible for causing tooth decay. United Dental Resources of Crete, Illinois warns that the solvent properties of alcohol can actually dissolve fillings, sealants, bonding and the cement used to fasten braces to the teeth. The breakdown of any of these can leave the door wide open for tooth decay.


Prescription mouthwashes often contain more alcohol than over-the-counter brands. But there is another product in prescription mouthwashes that is of great concern. Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic associated with several adverse side effects, according to Saint Martin's University of Lacey, Washington. These include burning sensations in the mouth and even carcinogenic effects.


Mouthwashes should always be stored out of the reach of children because the ingestion of too much can be toxic. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes the threat of mouthwash toxicity so seriously, it requires manufacturers of mouthwashes containing three grams or more of ethanol to incorporate child-resistant caps as part of their packaging.

Something to Think About

Family Gentle Dental Care of Gering, Nebraska explains that there is a safe way to clean your mouth without the use of commercial mouthwashes that contain alcohol. For example, a saline rinse made of half a teaspoon of salt combined with eight ounces of water is a healthier alternative. Baking soda can be just as effective, and half a teaspoon mixed with eight ounces of water creates a refreshing cleanser for your mouth.

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About the Author

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.