Ask a Dentist

January 20, 2023

Q: What Is The Difference Between Alcohol And Alcohol-Free Mouthwash?

Woman holding a mouthwash in her right hand while gargling.

When faced with the array of mouthwash options at the store, it can be hard to know what’s what. One thing you may notice is some mouthwashes say “alcohol-free” and some don’t. But what makes them different?

Alcohol Mouthwash

Alcohol mouthwash is any mouthwash that contains alcohol. Most alcohol mouthwashes contain ethanol, which effectively kills germs and bacteria in the mouth. Ethanol is what gives you that burning sensation, and it may leave you with a dry mouth.

Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

Alcohol-free mouthwash doesn’t contain ethanol or any other alcohol. Instead, it uses ingredients like:

  • CPC cetylpyridinium chloride - An antiseptic, antibacterial compound.
  • Clorodtan - An antiseptic compound that helps reduce plaque.
  • Xylitol - An antibacterial compound. Which is also used as a sweetener because of its naturally sweet taste.
  • Essential oils - Such as peppermint, clove and tea tree, which fight bacteria growth and cavities.

Which Is Better?

While alcohol mouthwash may sound like the better option for killing bacteria, it may do more harm than good. Your mouth is full of bacteria, good and bad. The good bacteria helps food digest, stops bad breath and maintains a healthy oral microbiome. Alcohol mouthwash kills all bacteria, including the good kind. This can throw your mouth off balance.

Additionally, it can make your breath worse. Alcohol is a drying agent, which is why your mouth feels dry after using this type of mouthwash. A dry mouth creates an environment that promotes bacterial growth, which leads to bad breath.

On the other hand, alcohol-free mouthwash effectively freshens breath and prevents oral disease without uncomfortable burning and dry mouth. It does target more bad bacteria than good, which creates a favourable balance in the mouth.

Using mouthwash that is free of alcohol and additives is your best choice for healthy gums and teeth. You want something natural and hypoallergenic that is very effective in killing bacteria and viruses at very low concentrations while breaking down biofilm (the dental plaque found on your tooth surface). OptiRinse is available at Dental Image Therapy Centres, at our Garden City location. You can get it at a reduced cost, making this great alcohol-free mouthwash more accessible. Contact us if you want more information on this product, we’d be happy to help.

If you have more questions about the differences between alcohol mouthwash and alcohol-free mouthwash, book an appointment with Dental Image Therapy Centres today or visit our clinics at St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre. 

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