Fact or Myth: Is Mouthwash Bad for You?

This is FACT.

Conventional mouthwash is designed to kill off the bad bacteria in your mouth that gives rise to tooth decay, cavities, and bad breath. But in doing so, it also destroys the healthful bacteria that comprise your oral microbiome and protect you from periodontitis and associated health complications.

Not only do conventional mouthwashes destabilize the flora in your mouth, but they also contain chemicals that have been linked to high blood pressure and oral cancers.

Does Your Mouthwash Contain Chlorhexidine? Early morning yawinig right before shower.

A 2013 study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine showed that using mouthwash containing chlorhexidine twice daily was associated with an increase in blood pressure. Chlorhexidine kills oral nitrate-reducing microbiota that helps your blood vessels relax, and in doing so raises blood pressure levels.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, lead study author Amrita Ahluwalia explains that even small elevations in blood pressure, such as those stimulated by the loss of beneficial oral microbiota, have a dramatic influence on morbidity and mortality risk from heart disease and stroke. She also recommends not using conventional mouthwash if you are not suffering from a gum or tooth infection.

Does Your Mouthwash Contain Alcohol?

Alcohol is another health-compromising ingredient in many mouthwashes. Alcohol in mouthwash has been linked to an increased risk for oral cancer. According to a review published in the Australian Dental Journal, “there is now sufficient evidence to accept the proposition that alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer and further feel that it is inadvisable for oral healthcare professionals to recommend the long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes.”

What About Parabens?

Parabens may be sneaking into your mouthwash in the form of methylparaben. Parabens are commonly found in antiperspirants and other cosmetics and have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. They mimic the action of estrogen, a hormone that can contribute to the growth of breast cancer tumors. Findings from a 2012 study published in the Journal of Toxicology appeared to confirm the link between parabens in toiletries and an increased risk for breast cancer.

A Homemade Mouthwash

If you’re concerned about bad breath and an overgrowth of bad oral bacteria, then ditch the conventional mouthwash for a homemade mouthwash. Mix the following ingredients together in a glass jar:

  • ½ cup filtered water
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops tea tree oil

Shake before use (the baking soda will settle to the bottom) and gargle with your homemade mouthwash for 1-2 minutes.