The Oral Cancer-Mouthwash Connection: Can Rinsing Give You Cancer?

When your toothbrush is nowhere in sight and time is running out, mouth rinse is your next best option. Although this quick fix eliminates unpleasant breath and bacteria, it might become a dangerous habit.

oral cancerWhile heavy drinkers and chain smokers have the highest risk for oral cancer, frequent users of mouthwash catch up to the list. Some types of rinses contain 26% of alcohol; when you replace floss and toothpaste with mouthwash, you might be at risk for oral cancer.

The Oral Cancer-Mouth Rinse Connection

Studies that observe the connection between rinses and alcohol date back to 1979. One study reviewed 200 patients with mouth cancer and discovered that 10 out of the 11 participants did not smoke nor drink. The cause behind their condition? Frequent usage of high-alcohol content mouth rinses.

Another study, published in the 1991 Cancer Research journal, observed 866 patients suffering from oral and throat cancer. The researchers reported that the risk of cancer development was 60% higher in women and 40% higher in men who used mouthwash more than 3 times a day.

According to recent studies, the high alcohol content in some oral rinses acts as a cell-lining inside the mouth. This allows substances with carcinogens to penetrate the mouth’s protective barrier, increasing risks of oral cancer.

What the Mouthwash Lover can Do

While there remains no strong link between oral cancer and your mouth wash, it pays to be mindful and prepared.

Like with other things, moderation is your safest bet against cancer. Refrain from using your mouth rinse for more than 3 uses a day. Although it can be tempting to just rinse when your toothbrush is not within range, encourage yourself to traditional mouth cleaning.

Say goodbye to alcohol content by switching to the alcohol-free mouthwashes; drop by the nearest commercial establishment for one. But before you do, ask your dentist for his recommendation of alcohol-free mouth rinses.

Love your mouth and say no to cancer; here at Warrendale Dental, we practice both. Our team not only offers professional advice on good hygiene, we also provide preventative oral cancer screening. Get in touch with us now for more information.