Spotlight on Alcohol Free Mouthwashes

The recent Adult Dental Health Survey (2009) has highlighted the continuing improvement in the Nation’s dental health, in particular, the improved retention of teeth into old age. Despite this trend, issues still remain over the level of oral cleanliness.

There have been major advances in toothbrush design, including different types of powered toothbrushes available to the public. Yet the goal of reducing plaque levels down to those compatible to periodontal health seems to be a challenge to most. For these reasons, there has been increasing interest and research into the use of antiseptic mouthwashes, preferably alcohol-free, as adjuncts to mechanical plaque removal.

This article considers the role of alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwashes as adjuncts to mechanical plaque control. 

Mouthwashes are on the rise in drugstore shelves. Do these solutions help improve oral hygiene? What are their indications? Here are some answers. 

What is MouthWash?

A mouthwash, what for? This is the first question that must be asked before any purchase. It is indeed necessary to distinguish the solutions to be used daily, after or before the brushing of the teeth, those with therapeutic aim, which often have a status of drug and whose use must be much more punctual. 

These are usually prescribed following oral surgery, tooth extraction or device-related injury. Based on high dose chlorhexidine (0.2% minimum), they are good antiseptics. They prevent bacteria from proliferating, but their regular use is discouraged. They modify the natural bacterial balance of the oral cavity and have side effects after a fortnight: blackish discoloration of the teeth, tongue, and / or loss or change in taste, or severe desquamation or allergy. These effects are fortunately reversible at the end of treatment.


Dentyl ph mouthwash for daily use is a complement to brushing. They are above all comfort products, pleasant to use because they freshen the breath.

But they can not do much in case of persistent bad breath (also called halitosis). Because this discomfort usually comes from an oral problem, a decrease in saliva production or gastric disorders that should be treated first to remove the symptoms.

Not content with surfing the wave “white teeth, fresh breath”, most mouthwashes also claim preventive effects on dental plaque, caries, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontitis or tartar.

Eye powder or real effectiveness? Practitioners remain cautious. For the majority of them, only regular brushing of teeth and flossing or interdental brushes can remove 95% plaque. “Everyone does not need to use mouthwashes. For a part of the population, the use of fluoride salt and fluoride toothpaste is the first anti-caries prevention measure, “explains Professor Zimmer, a renowned German expert. “On the other hand, if there is a high risk of caries, especially on the roots, and / or periodontitis, mouthwashes are recommended. “

Their composition varies according to the indications. Each of us decrypts the list of ingredients of the products in order to choose the one that best corresponds to the desired prophylactic effect.


For example, for the prevention of cavities, opt for a mouthwash rich in fluorinated compounds (at least 200 ppm), given that an acidic pH (less than 7) generally enhances their effectiveness. Be careful not to abuse it. Because at high doses, fluoride can have the opposite effect of that sought and weaken tooth enamel. Everything is therefore a question of dosage. For optimal prevention, do not hesitate to seek advice from your dentist, who can establish a personalized daily report.


Active-based mouthwashes such as chlorhexidine (at a concentration of less than 0.1%), amine fluoride (AmF) combined with tin fluoride (SnF2), or cetylpyridinium chloride ( CPC at the lowest concentration of 0.05%) have a demonstrated effect on plaque and gingivitis.

However, do not rely on mouthwashes to prevent periodontitis (inflammation of the supporting tissues of the teeth leading to mobility and then loss of teeth) or fight against tartar (only the descaling performed by a professional is effective ). However, solutions based on zinc chloride could slow down its formation.

Dental plaque: Brushing your teeth

Dental plaque is the soft, sticky coating that results from the accumulation of food debris, limescale and saliva on the surface of the teeth and the edge between the teeth and the gingiva. In addition to impregnating sugar, dental plaque is a privileged medium for the development of microbes. If this biofilm is not removed by regular and careful brushing, it will promote the development of caries, which destroy the tooth enamel and dentine.

Sensitive teeth: Limited action

When the gum retracts, the base of the tooth can be exposed and becomes sensitive to hot and cold. Some mouthwashes claim to remedy these small inconveniences. The few clinical studies on these products seem to show that only mouthwashes containing potassium compounds have some effects on tooth sensitivity.

Composition: Contraindicated for children

Frequently alcohol is included in the composition of mouthwashes as a stabilizer, antiseptic and / or healing agent (especially in mouthwashes for therapeutic use) or just solvent. This is the reason why children should not use mouthwashes. For adults, on the other hand, there is no particular contraindication in that the duration of rinsing does not exceed one minute, the alcohol does not pass into the blood system.