Excessive Use of Mouthwash May Increase Oral Cancer Risk

Do you love the uber-clean sensation you can get when you use mouthwash? Do you use it three or more times  a day?

If so, you may want to stop: a researcher from the University of Glasgow Dental School reports that people who rinse with mouthwash products containing alcohol have a “greater chance of developing mouth and throat cancer” (according to an April 3 article in the

The article reported that it was those users who use the mouthwashes “more than three times a day” are at most risk.

Most mouthwashes and mouth rinses contain alcohol.

The research looked at more than 1,900 cases of oral cancer patients and more than 1,900 health people in nine countries.

Those individuals who had poor oral health (this included those with gums that bled persistently and those who used dentures), were at greater risk, according the research.

The lead researcher, Dr. David Conway, even went so far as to recommend that no one use mouthwash at all.

However, he added that there might be a link between the “excessive” use of mouthwash and those individuals who use mouthwash to mask the smell of alcohol and smoking, which are “independent risk factors for oral cancer.”

The study’s researchers can’t say what types of mouthwash the patients used – and how much alcohol they contained – because the rinses were used years ago by the patients.

An adviser to the British Dental Association, Professor Damien Walmsley, said the study was “not ‘conclusive.'”

He said, according to the DailyMail article, that the study found that heavy drinking together with smoking and a poor diet “‘over time,'” are “‘strong risk factors for developing cancers of the oral cavity and oesophagus.'”

Walmsley said mouthwashes should be used only by following the “manufacturer’s directions.”

Most people don’t use mouthwash three times a day and, because the association between oral cancer and alcohol-containing mouthwash was when the rinses were used “excessively,” the link between average mouthwash use can’t be ascertained with certainty.

Important Takeaway

The study did find an association between poor overall dental hygiene and oral cancers, helping to underline how critical it is to maintain good dental health habits: brushing twice a day, flossing at least once or twice a day and visiting a Plano dentist at least twice a year for professional checkups.

Contact Dr. Darren Dickson by phone or send us a message at [email protected].

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