If you’re like most people, you probably have a bottle of mouthwash (also referred to as mouthrinse) in your bathroom cabinet. The question is, are you wasting your money? Is mouthwash effective or a commercial upsell?
The answer is, “depends”. It depends on what kind of mouthwash you buy and of course if you use it properly. It goes without saying, though, that brushing and flossing are the most effective means of maintaining great oral health and preventing gum disease (and of course, regular visits to the dentist).
Two Kinds of Mouthwash
There are two main categories of mouthwash available for purchase: therapeutic, and cosmetic.
1. Cosmetic Mouthwash
The main purpose of cosmetic mouthwash is to reduce or control bad breath. They also leave the mouth with a nice taste, usually some variety of mint. The effects are only temporary though. These types of mouthwashes don’t contain the powerful ingredients required to chemically inactivate the compounds that cause the bad breath odor in the first place.
Some people buy this type of mouthwash in the hopes of improving their oral health – if you’re buying a cosmetic mouthwash for that purpose, you’re wasting your money.
Unfortunately, they are no help in killing off the bacteria that are the cause of tooth decay and gingivitis, nor do they help with plaque or cavity prevention.
2. Therapeutic Mouthwash
If you’re looking to actually improve your oral health, then spend your money on a therapeutic mouthwash. They are easy to obtain, as most do not require a prescription. Not only do these freshen breath, but they also help with many other oral health issues.
These mouthwashes are effective in reducing plaque and slowing down the speed with which it forms. Mouthwash can also prevent and control tooth decay. All combined, these mouth rinses are an excellent aid to help prevent or decrease the early stages of gum disease as gingivitis.
Historically, therapeutic mouthwashes usually don’t taste quite as nice as the cosmetic ones as the medicinal ingredients often have strong flavours that are difficult to completely mask. Over time, though, most users report they get used to the taste and it becomes a non-issue.
Medicinal Ingredients of Therapeutic Mouthwash
Therapeutic mouthwashes generally contain at least 1 of the following categories of medicinal ingredients.
1. Antibacterial Agents
These help to reduce bacterial populations in the mouth, which decreases plaque formation, improves gingivitis, and helps control bad breath. Commonly used antibacterial agents include chlorhexidine and alcohol.
Fluoride is important for reducing the early stages of tooth decay, and making your teeth more resistant to future potential decay.
3. Astringent Salts
Astringent Salts can help with bad breath by deodorizing your mouth.
4. Odour Neutralizers
Odour neutralizers are yet another means by which therapeutic mouthwashes help to reduce bad breath.
How to Use Mouthwash
As always, follow the directions on the label for whatever product you buy and if you’re unsure, ask your dentist. Generally speaking, you’ll start off by measuring 15-20ml of mouthwash into a cup. Next, put the measured amount of mouthwash into your mouth – do not dilute it with water or any other liquid (unless the instructions indicate to). Swish the solution around for your mouth for 30 seconds (or as recommended) and gargle the solution in your mouth. This helps the mouthwash reach the back of your throat. Finally, ensure you spit out all the mouthrinse without swallowing any. It’s a good habit to not eat or drink immediately after your rinse.
Mouthwash is Effective if You Choose the Right One
As long as you choose a mouthwash that is suited for your purpose, it is likely to be effective in combination with comprehensive dental care. Ask your dentist what kind of mouthwash he or she feels would benefit you the most, and start with that.
If you’re in the Oakville, Burlington, Milton or surrounding area visit our Palermo Village, Oakville dental office or contact us today to help you with any questions or advice you may need.