It’s been used as a cleaning solution, as an antidote for gonorrhea, a sterilizer during surgery and now is used to fight off bacteria and halitosis. The oxidation of bacteria though the use of a rinse is one of the easiest ways to sterilize an environment, which is why the method has been used for odor control in the mouth since the naissance of Listerine in 1879 as a surgical antiseptic.
Mouthwash has grown from its humble origins to a product that fills a variety of needs. With it carries a variety of consequences. Dr. Philip M. Tierno, Jr. Director of Clinical Microbiology and Diagnostic Immunology at Tisch Hospital, New York University Medical Center surmises on some emerging issues having to do with mouthwash, including alcohol versus alcohol-free washes.
When mouthwash first came into existence there was no non-alcoholic variety. Even today many mouthwashes contain alcohol. However, continual use of a mouthwash containing alcohol can bring about some negative effects as well as positive—including cancer. Similar to those who contract mouth cancer associated with an over consumption of alcohol, riding oneself of bad breath with wash containing alcohol may also be a cancerous trigger.