Should I Use Mouthwash?

To rinse or not to rinse is a question that many of us have pondered over the years, as we observe a tidal wave of ads and product sponsorships that laud the dental and cosmetic benefits of mouthwash. All of these ads might leave you asking: should I even use mouthwash?

Our answer, like many answers in dental health, is qualified (but often, it’s yes). It certainly depends on your oral history. Patients with a history of dry mouth may need to steer clear of alcohol-based mouthwashes, which can dry your mouth even further. Patients who have recently undergone oral surgery may be prescribed a specific type of mouthwash, depending on their treatment and outcome.

There are two main types of mouthwash that we may recommend, depending on your circumstances: alcohol-based and fluoride-based. It’s worth noting that the American Dental Association has recommended 128 types of mouthwash, most, if not all, of which include alcohol. It’s also important to understand that the ADA has not recommended any type of mouthwash for reducing bad breath. Our office, as well as the ADA, recommends using proper brushing techniques, including thoroughly brushing your tongue, to rid yourself of chronic halitosis.

Alcohol-based mouthwash, such as Listerine, contains essential oils, such as menthol (0.042%), thymol (0.064%), methyl salicylate (0.06%), and eucalyptol (0.092%) that function as the active ingredients. These oils are dissolved in the alcohol to produce an antiseptic effect, neutralizing the acid in your mouth and stopping the decay the acid promotes. This is clearly a major benefit for your oral health.

Fluoride-based mouthwash is often a good recommendation for patients who have recently suffered from more cavities than normal, as the fluoride helps to prevent cavities and tooth decay. Dr. Judith Jones, a professor of dentistry at Boston University, also recommends fluoride-based mouthwash for patients suffering from multiple cavities, noting, “Daily fluoride rinses work really well. It’s as good as getting two fluoride treatments.”

In the end, it’s important to remember that mouthwash should be an addition to your current brushing and flossing regimen, not a replacement of those vital habits.

If you have any questions about your teeth or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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