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Is Alcohol Effective Against Bacteria In Mouthwash

1675 words - 7 pages

Testing the effectiveness of Alcohol and Alcohol- free Mouthwash against Bacteria

Large numbers of these products claim to do the same thing: kill bacteria. It is worth considering what these products actually do, compared to the claims about them.
Although many of these products promise that they present with a final 0% bacteria environment and fresh breath, the accuracy of this statement is highly dependent on the ingredients present within the solution.
Alcohol is a highly common ingredient in most mouthwashes because of its strong bacteria fighting effects. It has been used for many years by leading oral health care brands. Although this is a positive effect ...view middle of the document...

These four mouthwashes were chosen as they all contain different active ingredients. With Colgate Fresh Burst (FB) containing a much smaller amount of alcohol in comparison to Colgate Max White One (MAX), it was predicted that it would have a much smaller effect upon the bacterial strength and growth. Alcohol affects the strength of the present bacteria. Alcohol denatures the present proteins in the contained bacteria by breaking down the hydrogen bonds that make clear links between oppositely charged hydrogen and oxygen on each of the different parts of the chain like molecules. This is done as they form strong hydrogen bonds at those locations causing the present protein molecule to lose its normal shape. It is easily able to make the contained lipids of a cell more water soluble, hence making the membrane of the bacteria cell weaker until it eventually breaks apart. Once this happens the alcohol is able to reach the proteins in the cells when it denatures them (changes their shape) so that they are no longer effective. The bacteria are then unable to perform the function it needs to survive and then dies. The effectiveness of the alcohol e.g. ethanol works at its best at a concentration at about 70% against microorganisms. At 70% concentration it is very easily absorbed by the cells. Although, at a much higher concentration it hardens the proteins of the cell surface and hence prevents any further penetration. Ethanol also has a great dehydrating effect and can also dissolve the fats and oils to an extent, which hence causes damage to cell membranes.
Although two alcohol free mouthwashes were selected, each contained different active ingredients within the product. Other active ingredients present within the alcohol free solutions that are clinically proven to kill and/ or inhibit the bacteria are Benzoic Acid Cetylpyridinium Chloride (CPC) Eucalyptol, Thymol and Sodium Benzoic solution. These ingredients, like alcohol, also contain antibacterial properties. These ingredients act by penetrating the cells’ membrane causing major leakage of the cells’ needed components. With disruption to the bacterial metabolism, inhibition of cell growth occurs and then ends in the cells’ death regardless of location.
Bacteria reside both inside and outside the body. In many cases, such as the gut, presence of important bacteria is strongly beneficial. Bacteria found in the mouth such as an Escherichia coli (E.coli) and Staphylococcus albus (S.albus), on the other hand, are not beneficial. They can cause the formation of many cavities and can almost certainly increase the chance of other diseases and illnesses. Although both these bacteria are found in the mouth, they are very different. S.albus has a thick cell wall and is gram positive, whilst E.coli has a thin cell wall and is gram negative. Hence, different active ingredients were predicted to have a different effect upon each of the bacteria.
With multiple studies claiming different benefits of...

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