As early as 1979 the medical and scientific establishments have been debating a potential relationship between mouthwash (particularly mouthwash containing 25% of alcohol or more) and oral cancer. The most recent study in 2009 claimed “sufficient evidence” that using mouthwash containing alcohol increased the risk of the disease and recommended they be removed from shelves and given warning labels.
New analysis is indicating that there may not be a strong relationship at all.
The European Institute of Oncology, the International Prevention Research Institute, and the Institute of Pharmacological Research Mario Negri have conducted an extensive analysis of 18 epidemiological research studies and indentified no statistically significant associations between the regular use of mouthwash and risk of oral cancer and no significant risk of mouthwash containing alcohol and oral cancer.
Concerns about the qualities of many of the studies brought into question their methodology and how they drew a causal relationship. One study used only smokers without accounting for the inherent risk of oral cancer caused by smoking.
And while this study refuting the link is encouraging for those who regularly use mouthwash containing alcohol the researchers noted, “there is a need to undertake studies in which more attention is given to the investigation of the effect of mouthwash use at different points throughout the life of subjects with a focus on the reasons for using mouthwash and the particular types of mouthwash used.”
So if you are a mouthwash user you can continue to swill and swish but you might also consider cutting back a bit just to be sure.
At Wagner Oral Surgery we’re big fans of your mouth and how to keep it in tip-top shape. This is why our basic philosophy is one of superior care and comfort of our patients. We know a visit to an oral surgeon isn’t on your bucket list and that just makes us work harder so that your time with us as painless as we can make it while also keeping your mouth, teeth and gums as healthy as possible.