Difference Between Alcohol-Based and Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

Learn about the difference between alcohol-based and alcohol-free mouthwash.

Learn about the difference between alcohol-based and alcohol-free mouthwash.

While you may not give much thought to your mouthwash, it’s an important part of your oral care routine, and you should know the difference between alcohol-based and alcohol-free mouthwash. Alcohol-free mouthwashes offer a more comfortable cleaning experience, as well as many health benefits! Continue reading to learn more about the two types of mouthwash.


There is actually no difference in effectiveness between non-alcoholic and regular mouthwashes. The effectiveness is based on how you use it- so if you follow the instructions and swish the mouthwash for the required time after brushing and flossing, you will see results with both. However, alcohol-based mouthwashes make it challenging to keep it in your mouth for too long, as the alcohol causes a burning sensation. If you feel a burning sensation after a few seconds and need to spit it out, the mouthwash can’t kill much bacteria and is therefore not very useful.

Side Effects

The colorless alcohol Ethanol kills germs and bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath, and helps to reduce plaque and gingivitis. While this is great for your oral hygiene, the burning sensation it produces is not great for your mouth. Alcohol can also cause your mouth to dry out, as it dries up any salvia present in the mouth. Saliva is very important for maintaining nutrient levels in your mouth, and when it dries up, it can deter the mouth from doing its job and can increase your risk of tooth decay. On the other hand, alcohol-free mouthwash doesn’t have any of these side effects and won’t upset the natural balance that saliva creates.

Some studies have even linked alcohol-based mouthwashes to the chances of getting oral cancer. Other studies found that people who drink and smoke often tend to use mouthwash more often, so they are unsure what the actual cause of oral cancer is. While nothing is proven 100%, it’s possible that alcohol-based mouthwashes are linked to oral cancer, so it’s best to stay away from them and only use alcohol-free mouthwash.

Keep Your Smile Healthy with Affinity

While these tips can help with some tooth and gum sensitivity issues, we know the best way of correcting the problem is to visit your dentist regularly. Affinity Dental, located in Catonsville, MD, has six dentists and provides a variety of services from pediatric dentistry to orthodontics. Affinity Dental is capable of meeting all your needs. With 170 combined years of treating a variety of dental needs, Affinity is committed to providing quality dental care. To get your teeth back into good health and make your smile bright, call us at 410-719-7900 or contact us online. For other useful tips on dental care follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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