Incorporating mouthwash into our daily oral hygiene routine has become a common practice. It is a step that follows brushing and flossing, and we usually do it before leaving our homes. However, some individuals question the necessity of using mouthwash daily and wonder about its benefits.
Is it a cure-all potion for our teeth, or is it just a regular liquid with no significant advantages? The answer is not straightforward as it is both yes and no. To help you make an informed decision about the use of mouthwash, let’s delve into its pros and cons.
What is the purpose of mouthwash?
Mouthwash has evolved beyond just freshening breath. Nowadays, there are countless mouthwash products available, each with unique benefits. The most common reasons why people use mouthwash include:
- Providing fresh breath
- Reducing tooth decay by utilising sodium fluoride
- Killing bacteria to reduce gum inflammation
- Whitening teeth with a bleaching agent
- Preventing gum disease using an anti-plaque or antiseptic ingredient
What are the types of mouthwash?
A wide range of mouthwash formulas are available, each with its unique benefits. The various types of mouthwash include:
- Fluoride: These mouthwashes contain SODIUM FLUORIDE and help prevent cavities and fight tooth decay. However, if you already use fluoride toothpaste, using a fluoride mouthwash in addition may result in you surpassing the recommended daily intake.
- Antiseptic: This type of mouthwash contains alcohol and is beneficial in stopping bacterial growth. It is suitable for individuals with mouth infections and also aids in combating halitosis (bad breath). However, overuse of antiseptic mouthwash may lead to teeth discolouration.
- Cosmetic: Similar to using makeup to conceal flaws, cosmetic mouthwash is used to mask bad breath. Its effect is temporary, and it does not provide additional oral health benefits.
- Natural: Natural mouthwash is a holistic approach that uses alcohol-free products containing safer ingredients than other mouthwashes.
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth is detrimental to oral health, and for individuals experiencing this condition, special mouthwashes are available to maintain mouth moisture and prevent tooth decay.
- Breath spray: These small sprays are convenient and can be carried in your pocket or purse for instant breath-freshening. However, most of them do not provide any additional oral health benefits and may contain harmful ingredients that affect teeth health.
The Pros of Using Mouthwash
Mouthwash offers a variety of potential benefits when used as part of a comprehensive oral hygiene routine that includes brushing and flossing. However, it is important to note that relying solely on mouthwash is not recommended to achieve these benefits. Some of the advantages of using mouthwash are:
- Cavity Prevention
Mouthwash containing fluoride can wash away cavity-causing bacteria and protect the teeth enamel from demineralisation, which can lead to cavities. By strengthening and protecting the enamel, fluoride can reduce the risk of tooth decay.
- Healthy Gums
Antibacterial mouthwash can help to maintain healthy gums by eliminating bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection in the gums and tooth sockets. When left untreated, gum inflammation can lead to disease and other complications due to the buildup of plaque.
- Fresh Breath
The swishing of mouthwash can provide a refreshing and minty clean breath, which can boost confidence and leave you feeling invigorated for the day ahead.
- Soothes Mouth Sores
Mouthwash can provide relief for painful sores like canker sores and mouth ulcers that form inside the mouth. By reducing the level of bacteria and helping to detox the area, mouthwash can help these sores heal faster and soothe pain and irritation.
The Cons of Using Mouthwash
Using mouthwash with alcohol can result in several negative consequences.
- Cause irritation: Firstly, mouthwashes containing high levels of alcohol can have potent antibacterial properties, but excessive amounts of alcohol can irritate the tissues in the mouth, causing discomfort and a burning sensation. This can make the freshening experience difficult and even painful.
- Masks bad breath: Mouthwash is not a long-term solution for bad breath, also known as halitosis. While many people think that mouthwash can cure bad breath, the minty effect is only temporary and does not address the underlying condition. Thus, it is important to discuss any bad breath concerns with your dentist to determine the best course of action.
- Not safe for accidental consumption: Mouthwash should not be used by young children or minors under six years of age due to its chemical content, which can be harmful if accidentally swallowed.
- Increased Tooth Sensitivity: Excessive use of mouthwash can lead to dryness in the mouth, which can increase tooth sensitivity by leaving teeth exposed and unprotected.
- Links to oral cancer: There is ongoing debate about the link between alcoholic mouthwash and the development of oral cancer, with studies continuing to explore this potential connection.
In light of these factors, dentists generally recommend that mouthwash does not replace regular brushing and flossing in one’s oral health routine. It is essential to establish a proper oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding your oral health, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with your dentist for guidance and advice. At Your Healthy Smile, we are always available to help you maintain optimal oral health.