What Are the Pros and Cons of Using a Mouthwash with Alcohol?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Using a mouthwash with alcohol can contribute to good dental health and overall oral hygiene. It also freshens the breath and is easy and inexpensive to use. This type of mouthwash can, however, leave a burning sensation in the mouth, and may even lead to ulcers in some users. Alcohol tends to dry out the mouth, so it might be necessary to drink more water when using a mouthwash with alcohol. Recovering alcoholics are usually advised to use a non-alcohol mouthwash because one that contains alcohol could trigger a relapse in treatment.

Alcohol has germ killing properties, which makes it an effective tool against tooth decay and gum disease. This is because bacteria often leads to gingivitis, a disease characterized by swollen or bleeding gums. Since patients with gingivitis often find it painful or difficult to brush their teeth, they are more susceptible to cavities than other people are. Some alcohol-based mouthwashes may also reduce plaque, which can reduce the risk of tooth decay even if gingivitis is not a concern.

Mouthwash with alcohol can usually be purchased without a prescription, so anyone can use this type of mouthwash. There are many flavors to choose from, so choosing a mouthwash that tastes good can also be easy to do. Most brands are generally inexpensive, so incorporating this product into an oral hygiene routine does not need to be expensive.


Although mouthwash with alcohol kills germs, it often burns or stings the mouth while doing so. Many users find this sensation to be unpleasant, especially if they plan to eat shortly after using this product. Individuals who have very sensitive gums may develop mouth ulcers after they have been using this product for some time due because an alcoholic mouthwash may irritate this tissue.

Using a mouthwash with alcohol can also cause oral tissues to dry out. This is normally noted by a very dry mouth or throat anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes after using this product. When these symptoms occur, a user's breath may no longer feel fresh, but rather they may experience an unusual taste in the mouth in addition to it being very dry.

Alcoholic treatment centers generally advise clients not to use mouthwash with alcohol. This is because it can be intoxicating if very large amounts are consumed. Since alcoholic patients are usually advised to abstain completely, having access to this type of mouthwash might hinder the treatment process.


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Post 3

@donasmrs-- Just because your mouth is burning and stinging doesn't mean that your mouth is clean!

Mouthwashes with chlorine dioxide or benzydamine hydrochloride is just as, if not more, effective as alcohol. Chlorine dioxide is also known for its odor killing properties.

The only reason they put alcohol in mouthwash is to make you spit it out faster and use more of the product!

Post 2

@alisha-- I think that's bit of an exaggeration. Mouthwash with alcohol might not be the healthiest but when I use ones without alcohol, I don't feel that my mouth is clean. I actually look for that stinging sensation because I feel that the harmful bacteria in my mouth are dying. I also think that mouthwash with alcohol gives fresh breath longer.

I'm not worried about cancer because I don't use mouthwash every day. I use it once in a while so I don't think I'm going to get cancer from it.

Post 1

My dentist recently told me to switch to alcohol-free mouthwash. She said that alcohol kills cells in our mouth and can increase the likelihood of mouth cancer!

I'm shocked and upset because I've been using mouthwash with alcohol for decades. It's also sad that some of the most well known mouthwash brands in the US all contain alcohol.

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