When Should You Use Alcohol-Free Mouthwash?

The Good and Bad of Mouthwashes

Mouthwashes are marketed as beneficial rinses after your regular oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing. They usually leave tingling sensations in the mouth giving a feeling of supposed freshness and good breath. However, not all mouthwashes are helpful. It really depends if they contain alcohol or not.

There are several advantages of using mouthwash as part of one’s oral hygiene practices.

  • Mouthwashes enhance the hygiene of the mouth.
  • Those with fluoride help prevent cavities and gum disease.
  • They are prescribed to pregnant women to help them overcome the risk of periodontal disease.
  • They help heal certain mouth sores like cankers.
  • They decrease inflammation and swelling after dental surgery.


Ethanol is the alcohol present in most marketed mouthwashes. Content can be as high as 26%. It can eradicate bacteria and other mouth germs, as well as reduce plaque buildup and thereby prevent cavities and gingivitis. It also helps dissolve certain oils present in your mouth. Ethanol can cause a burning sensation in the mouth and episodes of mouth dryness.

Sometimes, depending on how mouthwashes are used, they may not be helpful in certain situations. Oral health needs vary from person to person. Hence, mouthwashes can be disadvantageous, too, especially if they have a high alcohol content.

  • Some mouthwashes can cause burns in sensitive soft tissue parts of the mouth.
  • They can worsen canker sores, making them more raw and painful.
  • If one has untreated bad breath, some mouthwashes can only mask it and provide limited freshness.
  • They are known to dry the mouth being alcohol-containing. So those with dry mouth syndrome, those undergoing chemotherapy, or taking dry mouth-causing medications should avoid mouthwashes with ethanol. They also cause the same in alcoholics.
  • There are mouthwashes that can stain teeth, if they contain chlorhexidine gluconate, a germicidal and disinfectant.
  • Mouthwashes are generally not for young children’s use. It is hazardous to them if ingested.

In these cases select alcohol-free mouthwashes. There are many types in the market. They are natural, herbal, and organic. There are those with whitening effects, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties. It’s always best to ask your dentist for the best mouthwash for you.

Lynnwood Dentistry Recommendations

When it comes to mouthwashes to add to your daily oral hygiene routine, ask your Lynnwood dentist for the best recommendation tailored for you.