It seems that nobody is quite sure about mouthwash. Should it be used? If so, when? Are there any side effects? What does it actually do?
Should I use mouthwash?
The short answer is, for most people, mouthwash is not a required part of your daily dental routine. There are benefits to mouth wash, and countless studies have demonstrated the benefits of fluoride in reducing cavities.
Most mouthwashes also contain an antibacterial agent, which can help to kill germs and bacteria that may live on your teeth and gums. This same antibacterial effect can help to sooth mouth ulcers and canker sores by reducing the amount of bacteria that can irritate them.
But there are also some downsides to mouthwash:
The alcohol content may irritate ulcers more than help them, especially by inducing pain. It is true that mouthwash can kill bad breath, but mouthwashes don’t discriminate between the good and bad bacteria in the mouth. Often mouthwash can mask the poor oral hygiene factors that are causing bad breath.
Alcohol-containing mouthwashes have also been linked to oral cancer for several decades, but with no definitive answers. Certain mouthwash ingredients may also raise your blood pressure. So there are some side effects of mouthwash.
When should I use mouthwash?
Mouthwash should not be used straight after brushing your teeth. Most toothpastes have more fluoride than mouthwashes, and this fluoride content is measured in parts per million (ppm). Brushing your teeth with toothpaste leaves a film of fluoride on your teeth, which helps to strengthen them and prevent cavities from appearing. Using a mouthwash immediately after brushing, which has a lower ppm, means that there is less beneficial fluoride left on your teeth. Therefore, mouthwash should be used at a different time than brushing and flossing.
It is also worth not to eating or drinking for 30 minutes following the use of mouthwash.
Ultimately, mouthwash does not need to be part of your routine, but it can be beneficial if the right product is used in the correct way. These questions around necessity and product choice should be left to your dentist, as they know your dental history and your personal dental risk of disease.
Do you use mouthwash? Do you have a favourite product or brand? Le us know!