Go on to Google and do a search for mouthwash. As you start to type more of the word into the search field you will be provided with some suggested queries. Most commonly the suggested queries will be asking the question, “does mouthwash cause cancer”. If you actually take a look at some of these queries you may be troubled to see multiple news outlets talking about the risks of cancer from using your mouthwash. We wanted to put your mind at ease with regards to any risks associated with using your mouthwash as well as provide some additional clarification on the situation you’ll see on the internet.
Firstly, the many articles discussing this topic stem from a study conducted by University of Glasgow researchers and European colleagues. The study evaluated 1962 cancer sufferers and 1993 “healthy” people across nine countries. The study findings were published in Oral Oncology and you can view an extract of this study online here.
Now this study involved people using mouthwash approximately 3 times per day on average, and without getting too technical, the idea was to evaluate the impacts of the alcohol contained within mouthwashes as a contributing factor to oral cancer. Even in conclusion the study notes that a person’s oral health and dental care do seem to be the primary contributions to increased risk of oral cancer. The study states clearly that it is unable to clarify whether the alcohol contained in mouthwash could lead to an increased risk of oral cancer.
It is however this study from 2014 that you will likely see references to all over the first page of internet results. A little bit of further digging and you will see that a lot of the attention was first picked up from an article published in The Mirror, which is a tabloid printed in the UK. When you move past the different clickbait headlines of the articles, many of them have statements from dental professionals discussing mouthwash and the lack of evidence that the small amounts of alcohol contained in them can cause oral cancer. There are some that focus more on the idea of the risk that was presented by the study, and ignore the fact that the study provided no evidence. This can obviously lead to confusion.
Aside from the fact that the study concluded there was no evidence of a link between mouthwash and oral cancer, there are other factors to take on board. Most people would never use a mouthwash 3 times per day, and very little difference was noted in the test group of mouthwash users and non-users. There is a very small amount of alcohol contained in mouthwash, and you are exposing yourself to a lot more alcohol if you consume just one or two alcoholic drinks per week.
What you really need to keep in mind with oral cancer is that the most important thing you can do is look after your oral health. It is poor oral health that can lead to oral cancer, and while drinking alcohol can be an influence, it is more of an influence if you already have poor oral health. Regular brushing and flossing is important. With regular brushing and flossing you can get in between the teeth, and up around the gums, removing the leftover food items and bacteria from your mouth. Using a mouthwash is really more of a supplementary step. It will help to kill off bacteria inside your mouth, but is only really effective after you have cleaned the mouth with a good brushing and flossing program.
If you are going to use a mouthwash, try to follow the directions on the bottle. Mouthwash should be rinsed in the mouth for 30 to 60 seconds. You probably only need to use mouthwash once or twice a day. If you have real concerns about the alcohol content, many providers sell alcohol-free options. Do not bother using a mouthwash if you haven’t brushed your teeth and flossed. It is practically ineffective and you are better off taking a breath mint.
Finally a tip about the internet. There are a lot of things online, you can read an article about any topic from any point of view. Collaborate your sources, look for multiple angles. In this day and age the majority of websites are making money for your time on their website. Publishing controversial content about health risks attached to everyday activities is attention grabbing, and it will receive a lot of viewers. I think we’ve all heard of the Nigerian astronaut who needs our donations so he can return to Earth.
If you do have any questions regarding mouthwash or your oral health in general, then feel free to talk to your dentist during your next appointment at Central Brisbane Dental.
Also you must forward this article on to the next 10 people you see or you will receive 100 years of bad luck and you will never know your true love. (Only joking!)