Is mouthwash harmful? Possible side effects!

mouthwash side effects

The use of mouthwash twice a day for a long time may have severe side effects, such as increased risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer! Brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent gum and tooth disease.

Benefits of using mouthwash

It’s estimated that 60% of the US population use mouthwash one or more times weekly. About 30% use it daily.

According to the American Dental Association, therapeutic mouthwashes help reduce plaque, gingivitis, bad breath and tooth decay.[1]

Mouthwashes can improve oral hygiene. They reach areas not easily accessed by a toothbrush or even floss.

Don’t use mouthwash¬†straight¬†after brushing your teeth. Mouthwash will wash away toothpaste’s fluoride left on your teeth.[2]

You better use mouthwash another time, such as after lunch.

Moreover, there are two types of mouthwash. Cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwash mainly control bad breath. But, it doesn’t kill bacterial. Thus, it only has a temporary effect.

On the other hand, therapeutic mouthwash has compounds that kill bacteria which cause bad breath, gingivitis, plaque, and tooth decay.

Side effects of using mouthwash daily

But, mouthwash kills good bacteria as well. You better consult your dentist before using mouthwash daily.

Alcohol in mouthwash may increase the risk of certain cancers

First, you may avoid mouthwashes with alcohol. Alcohol may increase the risk of head and neck cancers.

Although, further research is needed, mouthwash seems to be another risk factors for the development of head, neck or oral cancer. Most noteworthy, the risk of developing cancer increases when we combine carcinogenic risk factors, such as alcohol-based mouthwashes, with smoking.[3,4]

Smoking with alcohol consumption significantly increase the risk of these cancers. Up to 30 times.[5]

So, smokers better avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol.

Mouthwash may increase the risk of diabetes & high blood pressure!

Furthermore, mouthwash seems to inhibit the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide.

When we eat foods rich in nitrite, such as parsley, cabbage, arugula or beetroots, oral microbiome converts it to nitric oxide. But, mouthwash kill “good” and “bad” microbes, diminishing the amounts of nitric oxide in the body!

In fact, using mouthwash twice a day has detrimental effects on beneficial oral microbiome and eventually to nitric oxide synthesis![6]

Nitric oxide is a molecule which has many health benefits. It contributes to weight loss, prevents high blood pressure, controls blood glucose levels, and improves insulin sensitivity.[7]

According to studies, using mouthwash twice a day can increase the risk of developing diabetes up to 55%. Mouthwash use only once a day didn’t increase the risk of diabetes, though.[8]

Furthermore, according to another study, people who used mouthwash twice or more a day significantly increased the risk of hypertension.[9]

Additionally, diminished bioavailability of nitric oxide may cause obesity or other metabolic diseases, and even endothelial cell damage which may lead to cardiovascular disturbances.[10]

So, you better use mouthwash sparingly. Use it only when you actually need it. Consult your dentist about the frequency and necessity of the use of mouthwash.

Is mouthwash necessary for good dental hygiene?

Certainly, brushing teeth twice a day and flossing, are the best ways to have good dental hygiene and prevent gum and tooth disease. In fact, mouthwash may not be necessary.

But, mouthwash use may be beneficial after dental extraction procedures, such as of the third molar.

Also, mouthwashes containing anesthetic action may offer relief from pain until visiting your dentist.

Moreover, mouthwashes may protect the teeth in the case of xerostomia. In this case, there isn’t produced enough saliva, which transfers vital minerals to the teeth.

These are only a few medical conditions in which the use of therapeutic mouthwash is beneficial.

Above all, you should always consult your dentist before taking mouthwash.