Mouthwash: Here’s What You Need to Know (Without the Baloney)
You want to take care of your teeth the best way you can, right? You brush. You floss. Now let's grab that bottle of green liquid and have a gargle.
But there are hundreds of brands of mouthwash! Didn't I hear some bad things about some mouth rinses? Maybe I should just skip the stuff altogether.
No BS: in this article, we'll discuss the documented facts about mouth-washing products (also called oral rinses), so you can have the best breath and oral health possible.
Most Common Types of Mouthwash
First, let's talk about the most common types of these products. There are three different main types. Although there are three basic types, there are many, many different combinations. Some may only have fluoride. Others may contain antiseptic plus tartar control, etc.
You MUST read the labels if you want to get the right type for yourself. Think of it as a mouth rinse scavenger hunt.
- if you are looking for something just to get rid of bad breath, this is what you want. Read the ingredients.
- If it doesn't have fluoride, doesn’t say antiseptic, anti-tartar, or total care, and has a varied percentage of alcohol, it's most probably cosmetic.
- Common ingredients: Alcohol, flavoring agents, menthol
- Mouth rinses that contain fluoride, advertise as anti-septic, anti-tartar, or “total care” are therapeutic.
- They may contain a large amount of alcohol or none. Once again, you are the consumer. You need to read the ingredients before you buy!
- Common ingredients: Alcohol, flavoring agents, menthol, zinc citrate, fluoride, methyl salicylate, thymol, eucalyptol, and other proprietary substances.
Cosmetic + Therapeutic:
- These mouth rinses are combined products with properties of both common types.
- These products contain various proprietary ingredients that address bad breath (halitosis) plus therapeutic issues.
- Common Ingredients: Combination of 1. and 2. above.
Specialised Mouth Rinses
Natural or herbal rinses: these oral rinses typically contain proprietary combinations of various herbs. The upshot for these is that they are natural and do not contain any harmful chemicals. They do not ordinarily contain any fluoride.
Oral pain rinses: these liquids are used for minor painful conditions of the mouth, such as canker or denture sores. They typically contain benzocaine.
Dry Mouth Rinses: these types of oral rinses are used for a condition known as xerostomia or dry mouth, which can be a very serious condition. Look for "Biotène".
DIY Mouth Washing liquids: these homemade concoctions usually consist of water and salt. Of course, a few people may "doctor it up" with a bit of Limeburners or their own favorite alcoholic additive.
Prescription Oral Rinse: your dentist may recommend a special medicated rinse if you have gum problems (gingivitis) and braces. It contains chlorhexidine, which is a topical anti-microbial agent. It sometimes requires a prescription, but may be available OTC in your area.
Chlorhexidine is commonly sold under the brand name "Peridex" or "Corsodyl". Consult your dentist before using this oral rinse if it happens to be available OTC to you. It can significantly stain your teeth similar to coffee and may interact with medications.
Should I Use a Mouth Rinse?
OK, like we said at the beginning, no BS. There are scientific disagreements amongst dental authorities as to the effectiveness of mouthwashes. Your dentist will most likely recommend some types of oral wash if you ask.
Though there are disagreements, you really have nothing to lose; at the least you’ll lose bad breath, but you could gain some oral health benefits.
There are studies that show fluoride mouth rinses reduce cavity-causing bacteria by 50%. These rinses may be somewhat effective in reducing rates of tooth decay.
There have been some claims that mouth rinses with high percentages of alcohol can cause mouth cancer over a long period of time. Scientific studies have demonstrated that the link has not been established.
But smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages are associated with higher rates of oral cancer. Drinking alcohol is not the same thing as swooshing mouth-rinse alcohol in your mouth and spitting it out. So, go ahead and use an oral rinse if you'd like and don't worry about it. Dental experts do recommend that children under six to not use fluoride rinses.
Chlorhexidine, also known as Peridex and Corsodyl, should be used only under a dentist's prescription.
We've given you the information. No BS. There are literally hundreds of mouthwash brands to choose from. Read the labels and you will get the exact product you need.
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