Dr. Bell was recently quoted in New York Magazine’s The Strategist on “The 5 Best Alcohol-Free Mouthwashes, According to Dentists“. We thought that we would share Dr. Bell’s full response to the article so that patients could be more informed on this topic. If you are curious about what kind of mouthwash is best for you, it is always a good idea to ask your dentist!
What are some reasons why someone might want to avoid alcohol in their mouthwash and what types of patients do you typically recommend an alcohol free mouthwash to?
Mouth rinses are a common addition to a good oral hygiene routine. Mouth rinses can reduce the presence of oral bacteria while also removing plaque and food debris. Patients will often elect rinses that provide additional benefits such as whitening, cavity prevention, and improved breath.
Clinicians often recommend for patients to consider a non-alcoholic mouth rinse. Patients who are demonstrating oral conditions such as peeling of the intraoral tissue, dry mouth, burning mouth syndrome, are undergoing radiation therapies, or suffer from other systemic diseases such as Lupus and Sjogren’s are better off using a non-alcoholic mouth rinse. These conditions can worsen or become more painful when using a mouth rinse containing alcohol. It is also not recommended to use alcohol products if you have a history of alcohol abuse. Additionally, some patients simply prefer to avoid alcohol rinses because of the burning sensation these rinses often cause.
What do alcohol free mouthwashes typically contain to fight bacteria and bad breath instead?
Most major oral health manufacturers have an alcohol free rinse available in their product line. Commonly, manufacturers use cetylpyridium chloride (CPC) to reduce the bacteria counts which contribute to gingivitis, halitosis, and inflammation. Most over-the-counter non-alcoholic rinses contain CPC as its active ingredient. Dentists may also prescribe alternative rinses which may use chlorohexidine gluconate, sodium hypochlorite, or stannous fluoride; all of which have been proven to help reduce bacterial counts in a patient thereby improving both gingivitis and halitosis. The addition of fluoride in mouth rinses specifically helps reduce the risk for cavities. Newer rinses on the market are touting the benefits of zinc in the management of bad breath but requires additional active ingredients to manage gingivitis and cavities. Finally, a line of more holistic rinses including charcoal and aloe vera are also on the market. These rinses purport anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal benefits but more research comparing these rinses to other over-the-counter rinses is needed.
Are there any alcohol free mouthwashes that you think are effective and would recommend, and why?
A dentist’s recommendation for any alcohol free mouth rinse would be based on the individual patient’s needs and desires. After a thorough review of their heath history, oral conditions, oral hygiene routines, and risk assessments, a dentist can make a proper recommendation to provide the patient with a rinse that provides the most therapeutic outcome.