Alcohol vs. Alcohol-Free Mouthwash: Which Cleans Better?

If you’ve ever experienced a burning sensation while using mouthwash, that was because it contained alcohol. Also known as ethanol, it might cause some discomfort, but many put up with it because it’s powerful enough to kill a ton of bacteria. While that’s true to an extent, does that mean it does a better job than alcohol-free mouthwash? Not necessarily. To clean your mouth well in the long-run and maintain your dental health, alcohol-free mouthwashes may actually be the smart choice. In this article, we’ll explain why.

woman with a towel on her head and open mouth after using mouthwash

Mouthwash Containing Alcohol Kills Good Bacteria

The ethanol in mouthwash can kill almost all of the bacteria in your mouth, but that’s not always a good thing. After all, ethanol also kills good bacteria, causing an imbalance. This can lead to problems such as bad breath and other complications. What’s more, although it sounds like it can kill off bacteria more thoroughly, alcohol cannot reach harmful bacteria deep beneath the gum line. (A deep cleaning, on the other hand, can, but that’s a different topic!) So just because it gets rid of bacteria, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cleaning your teeth as well as you think.

On the other hand, alcohol-free mouthwash does not do as good of a job at killing bacteria as ethanol can. However, it does do a better job of targeting more bad bacteria than good. What’s more, research favors alcohol-free mouthwashes. For example, studies shows alcohol-free mouthwashes may have a better effect on the gloss, color, hardness and wear of tooth composite restorations.

Alcohol-Free Mouthwash Produces Saliva

Saliva is incredibly important in keeping your mouth and teeth clean and fresh. Alcohol-free mouthwash allows your mouth to continue producing saliva, while alcohol acts as a drying agent. That not only inhibits saliva production, it also contributes to dry mouth, which can cause bad breath and create more germs in the future. So if you want a clean, fresh mouth in the long run, it’s better to avoid ethanol.

Just remember, no matter which type of mouthwash you use, nothing beats professional dental cleaning for maintaining clean teeth and fresh breath. If you’re overdue for yours, contact us at Prairie Dental Group and set up an appointment today!

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