You brush your teeth and floss every day; now it’s time to consider adding mouthwash to your daily regime. Bad breath is the most common oral health problem that people suffer from in today’s world.

The use of a simple anti-bacterial mouthwash not only can tackle the root of bad breath caused by bacteria but also help in reducing plaque and aid in maintaining healthy oral hygiene.

Key ingredients of a mouthwash include Chlorhexidine, Fluoride, Essential oils, Peroxide, and Cetylpyridinium chloride.

There are different kinds of mouthwash, such as antiseptic mouthwash, antibacterial mouthwash, etc., that are available over the counter.

But you should know how to pick the best one for you. Moving ahead in this article, we will discuss everything around mouthwash in detail. Also, we will enable you to choose the right mouthwash for your oral needs.

What is mouthwash?

A mouthwash, popularly known as “Mouth Bath” among young children, is an anti-bacterial solution used as a dental aid to reduce the microbial load in the oral cavity.

The trouble spot is the tongue, and this is where the effect of mouthwashes can be quite dramatic. It is the area where most of the bacteria reside.

Many people advocate brushing or scraping the tongue when you brush your teeth to remove many of these objectionable inhabitants of the mouth physically.

The mouthwash acts on the bacteria that remain on the tongue when the mouth is thoroughly clean.

Key ingredients and their mode of action

  • Cetylpyridinium chloride – helps to make the bacteria inactive by dissolving the outermost layer of bacteria. Mouthwash containing this chemical is usually alcohol-free.
  • Chlorhexidine – helps to destroy the bacteria instantly (1).
  • Fluoride – prevents tooth decay and restricts it in cases of existing tooth decay.
  • Essential oils (Eucalyptol, Thymol, Menthol, etc.) – provide strength to the gingiva.
  • Peroxide – helps in teeth whitening process (present in selective mouthwashes).

Benefits of using a mouthwash

Rinsing your mouth daily with mouthwash for at least 30 seconds will provide complete oral hygiene.

  • Mouthwash helps in removing the bacteria from the mouth which are present even after brushing and flossing.
  • Mouthwash is useful in the removal of any food particles of your meal stuck in teeth and is recommended to use after a meal.
  • The problem of bad breath and its existence can be eliminated by using mouthwash regularly.
  • Plaque formed on the surface of teeth due to poor oral hygiene consists of bacteria which can lead to tooth decay. Regular use of mouthwash can help to remove plaque build-up on teeth and gum surfaces.
  • Fluoride in mouthwashes helps in re-mineralization of enamel and reduce the formation of cavities.
  • Gingivitis or inflammation of gums can be prevented by using mouthwash daily.

Risks involved with a mouthwash

A certain amount of alcohol is present in most of the mouthwashes. The issue with alcohol in your rinse is that it can irritate oral tissues, cause root sensitivity, and dryness of mouth.

Also, it can give you the adverse side effect of bad breath.

A study was conducted in the UK on obese adults for a period of 3 years. It was concluded from the study that people who used mouthwash twice a day or more had an approximately 50% increased risk of developing diabetes/ prediabetes combined compared to those who used mouthwash less or not at all. (2)

But there were methodological limitations in this study and thus, the findings cannot be established as facts.

In short, there is no specific research available that proves the risk of using mouthwash.

How to pick the right mouthwash for you?

It is essential you pick one that best type that suits your gums, teeth, and taste preferences. Choose according to the following points:

Fluoride mouth rinse

Fluoride prevents tooth decay and strengthens the enamel.  Tooth decay or dry mouth indicates a strong bacterial presence in your mouth. A fluoride mouthwash will be helpful to curb the problem.

Alcohol content

Most commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol. If you are buying a mouthwash for your family which includes kids, you might want to switch to a non-alcohol based mouthwash.

Plaque control

An anti-plaque mouthwash can help you decrease the microbial load and give you a fresh breath.

Sensitivity

Many people, especially with delicate gums, find themselves sensitive to particular ingredients of mouthwash. Patients recovering from a recent dental procedure look for natural or alcohol-free mouthwash to reduce sensitivity. 

FDA and dentist-approved mouthwash

Keep a check on whether a mouth rinse  FDA approved, or has any controversial ingredients, and is recommended by your dentist.

How to use mouthwash?

Rinse the mouth with about 20-50 ml of mouthwash. The wash is typically swished or rinsed for about 30 seconds – 1 minute and then spit it out.

Do not drink water immediately after using mouthwash. Mouthwash should not be used directly after brushing the teeth to prevent the wash away of beneficial fluoride residue leftover after cleaning.

Don’t rinse with water after brushing. “Spit – don’t rinse” is the rule to be followed after tooth brushing.

Types of mouthwash available

There are different mouthwashes that are available over the counter. But each has some specific purpose.

Antibacterial mouthwash

This helps you tackle bad breath, which is often caused by bacteria. It kills the bacteria and inhibits its reproduction in your mouth. 

Antiseptic mouthwash

This will stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, protozoa, and viruses.

Fluoride mouthwash to prevent cavities

If your goal is to precisely prevent cavities, then you can choose a therapeutic fluoride-based mouthwash. It helps in remineralization and reduction of cavity formation.

Prescription mouthwash for medical purposes

During an infection, oral pain, lack of saliva (xerostomia), or any oral condition, take a piece of advice from your dentist about special mouthwash to treat the disease.

Use as directed by the dentist, check the dosage and the side effects.

Herbal mouthwash

This type of mouthwash does not contain dye and chemicals and promote good oral health.

Key ingredients are clove, peppermint, and rosemary which are used in preparations adding their anti-bacterial, antiseptic properties.

Who should not use mouthwash?

  • Children under the age of 6 years.
  • If your child is older than 6 years of age and you want to introduce a mouthwash into his or her routine, then be sure to select a product which is specifically for children.

These products are alcohol-free and contain fluoride. Always supervise your child while they’re brushing their teeth to teach them proper oral habits.

What’s your decision?

Although mouthwash is effective at killing bacteria in the oral cavity, it’s not a substitute for regular tooth brushing and flossing.

Gingivitis or periodontal conditions are severe dental conditions that lead to oral pain, bleeding and ultimately tooth loss.

So, take appropriate measures to avoid it. Use of mouthwash can help you maintain the best oral health. Now, that you know all the beneficial effects of mouthwash, consult your dentist and act accordingly.

A mouthwash not only tackles the root of bad breath but also helps in reducing plaque. Key ingredients of mouthwash are Peroxide, Fluoride