Mouth rinses – Uses and Types

Mouth rinse seems like a magical thing. If you have bad breath just swish and viola it’s gone. If you’re too tired or lazy to brush your teeth, just swish, and viola a quick fix. It’s easy, tastes good, and leaves you with fresh breath, but are all types of mouthwash good or bad for you? Some say good because it can help fight plaque and gum disease, and others say bad because they believe it can cause cancer. First of all, all mouth rinses are not the same, so what one rinse does a different rinse may not. Second, mouth rinses definitely offer certain benefits. Read on to find out more about the pros and cons of mouth rinses.

Two types of mouth rinses: cosmetic and therapeutic

Generally, there are two types of rinses: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic rinses can temporarily cover bad breath with a pleasant taste. These rinses do not contain the ingredients which fight bacteria; therefore, the source of bad breath is untouched. Additionally, cosmetic rinses do not treat plaque, reduce the severity of gingivitis, or prevent  cavities. Unlike cosmetic mouth rinses, therapeutic rinses eliminate the odor causing bacteria known as volatile sulfur compounds. They may also contain fluoride which builds back enamel strength to help prevent tooth decay.

Common Ingredients in Mouth rinses

  • Antimicrobial Agents: These substances help fight plaque, treat gingivitis, and control bad breath.
  • Fluoride: This naturally occurring mineral builds back eroded or damaged tooth enamel, preventing tooth decay and sensitivity.
  • Astringent salts: Acting as deodorizers, astringent salts in mouthwash temporarily mask bad breath.
  • Odor neutralizers: By chemically inactivating VSC, or volatile sulfur compound, odor neutralizers stop the source of most bad breath.
  • Alcohol: Many rinses contain up to 27 percent alcohol by volume. This adds to the bite and increases the flavor of mouth rinses.

Special Considerations for Mouth Rinses

Rinses cannot adequately substitute a good oral hygiene regimen, including brushing and flossing. Rinses are a good supplement for use before or after brushing because they can rinse away some food debris. Children under the age of six should not use any type of mouth rinse because the child may swallow the rinse and become ill. Additionally, you should always choose an American Dental Association approved rinse and consult your dentist before making it a part of your daily routine.

Can any of the types of mouthwashes be bad for you?

In 2008, the Australian Dental Journal published a literature review by Michael McCullough and Camile Farah, in which the scientists suggested persistent use of mouth rinses containing alcohol could increase your risk of oral cancer by five times. While excessive alcohol consumption is often cited as  a contributor to oral cancer, the ADA said “the available evidence does not support the connection between oral cancer and mouthwash containing alcohol ”

Mouth rinse Pros

  1. Helps fight cavities: Studies show that mouthwash that contains fluoride can help reduce cavities and remineralize tooth enamel.
  2. Helps fight periodontal disease: The use of an antibacterial mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine or alcohol may help prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease.
  3. Helps prevent low birth weight babies: Periodontal disease has been deemed a risk factor for preterm pregnancies. According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology pregnant women who used mouthwash during pregnancy were less likely to deliver early.

Mouth rinse Cons

  1. Does not eliminate bad breath: Bad breath due to poor oral hygiene is only masked with the use of mouthwash. It’s the same as using perfume during the Renaissance period in France to mask body odor due to their lack of bathing.
  2. Oral Cancer: Although it has yet to be proven, it has been suggested since the 1970s that mouthwash may contribute to the development of oral cancers.

Learn more about the different types of gargles

Bring your tricky dental hygiene questions to Dr. Fondriest or his hygienist. They would be happy to answer questions about rinses, kinds of toothpaste, flossing, and brushing. We offer quality preventive dentistry to help your teeth feel squeeky clean, and help you achieve peace of mind. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call our Chicago cosmetic dentist at 847.234.0517. We serve patients from Lake Forest and the North Shore of Chicago.