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Is Mouthwash Necessary? What Dentists Say

Updated: 5 days ago

Have you ever wondered if adding mouthwash to your daily dental routine is vital to your general dental hygiene?  The answer might surprise you.


Mouthwashes are beneficial for fresher breath, and they also play a secondary role in keeping your gums and teeth healthy. With over 30% of the world’s population suffering from bad breath, using mouthwashes may be necessary for some more than others.


Plus, people with deep gum pockets are encouraged to use mouthwashes to reach hard-to-reach areas where toothbrushes cannot get into.


Do you want to find out why mouthwashes may be a necessity? If yes, keep reading.

This article will discuss why you need mouthwash, the proper way of using it in your daily oral routine, and the risks involved. So, let’s get right to it.


Why is Using Mouthwash Important?


Adding mouthwash into your oral routine may be useful with more people not adhering to the basic brushing and flossing recommendations. This is because most mouthwashes have ingredients, like fluoride and alcohol, which reduce cavities and the risk of gum disease. They protect the teeth from the negative effects of dental plaque buildup caused by not brushing and flossing regularly.


However, despite mouthwashes reducing these effects, they do not help to remove the plaque from your mouth, as they are not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Even with mouthwashes not involving direct contact with the teeth surfaces, they can get into hard-to-access areas of the mouth.


So, if you want healthier teeth and gums, combining it with brushing and flossing is a good way to go.


Why You Need Mouthwash


Not everyone may need to add mouthwash to their oral routine, but learning about the benefits of mouthwash will help you decide if you need one. Highlighted below are a few advantages of using mouthwash.


  • Reduces Bacteria – In most mouthwashes, especially antiseptic, you will find alcohol or some other bacteria-killing ingredient. This means that every time you use mouthwash, it reduces the bacteria in your mouth and blocks an acidic environment that can cause gum disease or tooth decay from forming.


  • Freshen Your Breath – A clean, refreshing breath is one of the benefits of using mouthwash, especially immediately after a meal. It is also a fast way of getting a refreshing breath, reducing the risk of bad breath. Plus, mouthwashes, especially because of its liquid nature, can reach difficult crevices of the mouth that a toothbrush can’t.


  • Reduces Risks of Dental Problems – Adding mouthwash, especially fluoride-based, to your routine is vital if you have an increased risk of tooth decay or gum disease, as it helps to reduce these risks and prevent future issues. Mouthwashes also decrease plaque buildup and gingivitis, as well as prevent tooth cavities and decay.


  • Strengthens Enamel – Some mouthwashes, especially antiseptic and fluoride-based, contain ingredients that strengthen the enamel and protect the teeth from decay.


  • Reduces Dry Mouth – Mouthwashes with xylitol can help treat dry mouth symptoms, thereby reducing the risk of bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay.  This benefit is because xylitol increases saliva production in the mouth.


Best Mouthwash Use Practices


If you want to get all the benefits of adding mouthwash into your routine, here are a few recommended practices.


  • Combine Mouthwash with Brushing and Flossing – If you want the best oral results, you should pair using mouthwash with brushing and flossing. It is best to use it after flossing, as it would help to rinse away the particles dislodged from flossing while simultaneously giving you fresh breath.


  • Don’t use Mouthwash immediately After Brushing – If you are using a fluoride-rich toothpaste, you need to wait for at least 30 minutes after brushing before using mouthwash. This is because using mouthwash immediately after brushing will just rinse out the fluoride and limit its usefulness.


  • Gargle Mouthwash for About 30 - 60 Seconds – Make sure that you swish and gargle the mouthwash in your mouth for about 30 seconds before spitting it out. Plus, remember not to swallow the mouthwash.


  • Use Mouthwash After Meals – Mouthwashes are very essential for quick breath freshening, especially after meals. If you do not have the time to brush your teeth between meals during the day, you can use a mouthwash to ensure your breath remains fresh. However, you need to maintain your regular brushing and flossing routine for optimum results.


  • Don’t Eat Immediately after Mouthwash Use – It is best to wait for at least 30 minutes after rinsing your mouth with mouthwash before eating or drinking anything.


Things to Consider when Choosing a Mouthwash


Choosing the best mouthwash for you doesn’t have to be a chore, as you must consider your reasons for purchasing one. If you just need a mouthwash that freshens your mouth and masks bad breath, you can choose any of the over-the-counter antibacterial brands in your local store. But, if you need them for clinical purposes like treating gingivitis, prescription-only mouthwashes from your dentist are the best option.


On the other hand, if you want to prevent tooth decay and reduce harmful bacteria buildup, choosing a mouthwash with fluoride is recommended.  However, if you want to whiten your teeth, using whitening mouthwashes are not as efficient, and you are better off using whitening strips.


Risks Involved with Using Mouthwash


Despite the benefits of using mouthwash, there are still some risks involved. But most of the risks have more to do with human habits than the use of mouthwash.


For example, some people think using mouthwash is enough, and so they reduce brushing or stop it altogether. This is not a good idea, as using mouthwash does not offer the same benefits as brushing. Also, because it is not safe for consumption, people are at the risk if it is accidentally ingested.


Sometimes, using mouthwashes for too long can be difficult because of the tingling sensation. With using alcohol-based mouthwashes, you run the risk of drying out the saliva in your mouth because of the drying nature of alcohol. Plus, alcohol-based mouthwashes can cause gum and soft tissue irritation. However, this does not mean that mouthwashes that have alcohol are bad, you just need to ensure that you are not overusing it to avoid irritation or opt for alcohol-free options.


Some prescription mouthwashes with chlorhexidine gluconate, used to treat gingivitis, may cause stains on your teeth. Research also found that while mouthwashes reduce the bad bacteria in the mouth, they also reduce the good. Besides, even though using mouthwash helps mask bad breath, it doesn’t deal with the underlying cause of the bad breath.


Conclusion


Despite the benefits of using mouthwash, it cannot replace brushing and flossing. Between brushing, flossing and mouthwash use, you may even be able to drop using mouthwash without any major repercussions, but if your dentist recommends using it, you need to combine it with brushing and flossing.


On the other hand, if you are at risk of getting gingivitis or tooth decay, you need to include the use of mouthwash in your routine. But, if you want to go the natural route, you can use the following home remedies to get similar mouthwash results:


  • Tea tree oil and peppermint rinse

  • Baking soda and salt rinse

  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse

  • Cinnamon and clove rinse.

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