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Will my mouthwash kill me?

February 13, 2009

Well, if you were to read the report in this link: Mouthwash linked to cancer you would indeed start to worry. So what is the fuss all about and who can we trust?

Who found what?

The study, carried out by the Melbourne  Dental School concluded that when tested in vitro (in a test tube) alcohol was proved to damage skin cells. This has been backed up by many scientific studies and alcohol has long been linked to oral and other cancers. Alcohol is an ingredient in many (but not all) mouthwashes.

Why is alcohol in the mouthwash?

Alcohol is added to mouthwashes to act as an antiseptic, cleaner and preservative. The alcohol breaks down film surrounding oral bacteria so that it can be washed away, giving the user fresher breath!    Not all mouthwashes contain alcohol, some have up to 26% and some have none (alcohol free varieties are: Oral B, Fluorocare, Dentyl and Neutrafluor 220 ethanol free)

So how big is the risk?

Smoking, alcohol consumption and chewing tobacco have all been proven to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.  In addition to that the exposure to certain viruses can increase a persons risk – Human papilloma virus and Epstein  Barr are two such viruses. Chewing Betel Nut (common in Indonesia) is also a trigger as is poor dental hygiene.  The use of mouthwashes containing alcohol could increase your risk of developing mouth cancer but you would have to be using an awful lot of it and probably have another risk factor.

At Realize Beauty we would encourage mouthwash fans to talk to a dental professionals before changing their oral care routine. If you are already in an at risk group (look at the other triggers above) you may want to consider your options and reduce mouthwash use. If however, you only use mouthwash occasionally and are otherwise healthy there should be no need to worry.

As with most things, when there is a slow news day, people try to scare you! Take this story for what it is worth, speak to your dentist if you need to and then get on with your life – stress and worry will kill far more people that any mouthwash on the market…..

To read the full scientific report that the newspapers quoted click here: Will my mouthwash kill me?

Any questions? Please feel free to post below.


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