09/04/2014 09:50 BST | Updated 09/04/2014 10:59 BST

Poor Dental Hygiene Can Give You Cancer, Experts Warn

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If you use mouthwash as part of a general flossing and brushing routine, you're fine.

However, if you are part of the contingent that uses mouthwash as a substitute for brushing your teeth and/or you use it to hide the smell of smoking and drinking, then you could be in trouble.

A new study by University of Glasgow has found that "the alcohol in mouthwash is thought to help cancer-causing substances such as nicotine permeate the mouth lining" reported The Mirror.

More importantly, it can also produce a substance called acetaldehyde, a carcinogen, which may accumulate in the mouth.


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It observed 1,962 patients with mouth or throat cancer and 1,993 people without the disease. They found that people with poor dental care – those who never or hardly ever brushed their teeth – were at an increased risk.

Study leader Dr David Conway said: “We have found that using mouthwash excessively – three or more times a day – raises the risk of cancer. I know that some people who regularly smoke or drink alcohol use mouthwash to hide the smell. I would advise against any excessive use of it.”

On their website, the NHS published a response to the findings, saying: "...despite the Mirror's headline, the link between oral cancer and mouthwash is less clear. The association was only significant when looking at very frequent use (three times a day).

"Very few people used mouthwash this frequently, which decreases the reliability of this risk estimate. There is certainly no credible evidence that mouthwash "can give you cancer". Even if there is a true link, it is unclear whether it is mouthwash itself (the alcohol content) or the reasons it is being used, such as poor oral hygiene, that are responsible for the association."

The article reiterates the need for good dental hygiene.