Tue, Jan 13, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Experts confirm mouthwash link to oral cancer

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dental experts yesterday confirmed a recent report linking chemicals in antiseptic mouthwash to oral cancer, prompting dentists to advise against using the product, especially people with open wounds or sores in the mouth.

The current issue of the Dental Journal of Australia said that mouthwash containing alcohol has been proven to increase the risks of oral cancer.

“Alcohol is [also] a risk factor in oral cancer,” said Hahn Liang-jiunn (韓良俊), oral and maxillofacial surgeon at National Taiwan University Hospital and chairperson of the Department of Health’s Committee on Dental Medicine.

Hahn said he had been advising his patients against using mouthwash containing alcohol for many years because harmful chemicals in alcohol accumulate in oral cavities when it comes in contact with the lining of the mouth, increasing the chances of developing oral cancer.

Huang Yi-haw (黃怡豪), a dentist at the Tri-Service General Hospital, strongly advised people with open wounds or sores in the mouth against using mouthwash.

“Long-term use of mouthwash is no better than using regular water,” he said. “Especially if the mouthwash contains alcohol, it will irritate wounds. If patients have wounds or sores ... we would advise against using it.”

Huang said thoroughly cleaning one’s teeth was more effective than using mouthwash. Proper use of floss and a toothbrush, which mouthwash and toothpaste cannot replace, is sufficient, he said.

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