Is Mouthwash Bad For You? The Major Risks, Side Effects And Alternatives

We all want a fresh, minty breath and for many of us, mouthwash is one way to achieve that goal. But is it really as safe and harmless as we think? The answer might surprise you. Recent studies have revealed that there are some concerning risks associated with the ingredients in mouthwash, including an increased risk of cancer in certain cases. In this article, we will look at the major risks and side effects associated with mouthwash use, as well as some healthier alternatives for freshening your breath.

What is mouthwash?

Mouthwash is a solution that is used to rinse the mouth. It usually contains salt and water, or alcohol and water. Some mouthwashes also contain fluoride.

Mouthwash can help to:

-Remove food and debris from the teeth
-Reduce plaque and gingivitis
-Whiten teeth
-Freshen breath

However, mouthwash is not without its risks. The most common side effect of mouthwash is dryness of the mouth. This can lead to an increase in cavities, as well as other oral health problems. Alcohol-containing mouthwashes can also cause irritation of the mucous membranes in the mouth, and may contribute to bad breath.

The different types of mouthwash

There are different types of mouthwash on the market, and each one has its own set of pros and cons. Here is a look at the different types of mouthwash and their potential risks and benefits:

Alcohol-based mouthwashes: These mouthwashes can be effective at killing bacteria and freshening breath, but they can also be drying and irritating to the mouth. They may also increase the risk of oral cancer.

Non-alcohol based mouthwashes: These mouthwashes are less likely to cause irritation or dryness, but they may not be as effective at killing bacteria.

Natural mouthwashes: These mouthwashes use ingredients like tea tree oil or baking soda to kill bacteria. They are generally considered safe, but they may not be as effective as other types of mouthwash.

Each person will need to decide which type of mouthwash is right for them, based on their needs and preferences. Be sure to talk to your dentist or doctor before using any type of mouthwash, to make sure it is safe for you.

The risks of mouthwash

The risks of mouthwash are many and varied, and can include everything from mild irritation to more serious problems like cancer. Some of the most common risks associated with mouthwash use include:

Dry mouth: Many mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can cause dryness of the mouth. This can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and other oral health problems.

Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to the ingredients in mouthwash, which can lead to itching, swelling, and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Irritation: Mouthwash that contains menthol or other irritating ingredients can cause burning, stinging, or redness. This is especially true if you have open cuts or sores in your mouth.

Cancer: Some studies have suggested that long-term use of alcohol-based mouthwashes may increase the risk of developing cancer of the throat or oesophagus. However, more research is needed to confirm this link.

If you are concerned about any of the risks associated with mouthwash, talk to your dentist or doctor. They will be able to advise you on whether mouthwash is right for you and help you choose a product that minimizes any potential risks.

Side effects of mouthwash

Mouthwash is a common household product that most people use without giving it much thought. However, there are some risks and side effects associated with mouthwash that you should be aware of.

The most common side effect of mouthwash is increased sensitivity to cold or hot drinks and foods. This is because the alcohol in mouthwash can irritate the mucous membranes in your mouth. If you experience this side effect, try using a non-alcoholic mouthwash or diluting your mouthwash with water before using it.

Another common side effect of mouthwash is dryness of the throat and mouth. This can be caused by the alcohol in mouthwash, as well as the other ingredients such as menthol or eucalyptus oil. If you find that your throat and mouth are becoming excessively dry, try using a different type of mouthwash or diluting your current one with water.

If you have any cuts or abrasions in your mouth, avoid using mouthwash until they have healed. The alcohol in mouthwash can irritate open wounds and delay healing.

If you have any concerns about the risks or side effects of using mouthwash, talk to your dentist or doctor.

Alternatives to mouthwash

There are a number of alternatives to mouthwash that can be just as effective in keeping your mouth clean and healthy. These include:

Water:Simple water can go a long way in rinsing away plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums. Be sure to use lukewarm water, as hot water can cause gum irritation.

Salt water: Mixing a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water can create a DIY mouthwash that can help to relieve sore throats and reduce inflammation.

Baking soda: Baking soda is a natural toothpaste ingredient that can also be used as a mouthwash. Simply mix 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda with water and swish around your mouth for 30 seconds. Spit out and rinse with water.

Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is another common ingredient in store-bought mouthwashes. You can also use it straight from the bottle as an alternative to mouthwash. Simply mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water and swish around your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting out.


In conclusion, mouthwash can be beneficial for oral hygiene when used in moderation and under the guidance of a dental professional. However, overuse of mouthwash products can lead to various risks and side effects which range from bad breath to cancer. If you are seeking an alternative solution to improve your oral health, there are many natural remedies available that do not pose any significant risk. By finding a regimen that works best for you, combined with regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings, your smile will remain healthy for years to come.