Does Mouthwash Work?
If you’ve ever browsed the supermarket or pharmacy shelves for a mouthwash product, you’ll have been met with a vast array of options, from mouthwash that promises to give you minty-fresh breath to oral rinses designed for sensitive teeth.
But despite the number of options available, the question is – does mouthwash actually work? If you’re wondering whether to make mouthwash part of your oral hygiene routine, read on to discover the truth about mouthwash.
What is mouthwash good for?
The fact is, using mouthwash can provide a number of benefits. In the short term, rinsing with mouthwash can help make your mouth feel and smell fresher. It can also help to protect against cavities and gum disease, as well as reducing the presence of dental plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
What’s more, medical mouthwashes can assist in the treatment of some oral health conditions. If you suffer from gingivitis, you may benefit from a mouthwash that contains antimicrobials, while people experiencing pain after dental surgery might find a pain-relieving mouthwash containing benzocaine helpful.
What’s in your bottle of mouthwash?
While different types of mouthwash will contain different ingredients, most mouthwash products generally include the following substances:
- Alcohol or antimicrobial agents to kill bacteria
- Detergents to dislodge food debris and plaque
- Flavours and colours to improve the look and taste
- Preservatives to avoid bacteria developing in the mouthwash
- Water to dissolve the other ingredients
- Flouride to protect against tooth decay
Can mouthwash cure bad breath?
A common misconception is that mouthwash alone can alleviate bad breath. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. While mouthwash can provide a short-term fix for temporary odours – such as those arising from smelly foods like garlic – it won’t cure ongoing bad breath or halitosis.
If you suffer from persistent bad breath, it’s important to visit your dentist as it may be caused by a more serious condition.
You can also try the following tips to help you avoid bad breath and maintain great oral health:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water – this will help ensure your mouth produces enough saliva (which is like your body’s natural mouthwash).
- Avoid sugary food and drinks which can contribute to bad breath.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene routine, including regular brushing and flossing, as well as brushing your tongue.
What causes bad breath?
Bad breath can be caused by a number of different factors, including:
- Inadequate brushing or flossing techniques
- Gum disease
- Dental decay
- Dry mouth syndrome
- Infected sinuses
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes, liver failure and lung infections
- Radiation treatments for oral cancer
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of bad breath, talk to your dentist so they can advise on the best treatment options for you.
How do I choose the right mouthwash?
If you’re keen to give mouthwash a go, you’ll want to select a product that’s right for your needs. A good place to start is the Australian Dental Association’s list of approved mouthwashes.
To help you decide which bottle of mouthwash to choose, check out these quick tips:
- An alcohol-free mouthwash is a good option if you suffer from dry mouth. As alcohol is a drying agent, mouthwashes that contain alcohol may make your dry mouth symptoms worse.
- A mouthwash with extra fluoride can help to protect teeth against acid attacks and decay, so is a good choice if you’re concerned about tooth decay. (Take care not to accidentally swallow your mouthwash, as consuming too much fluoride can be toxic).
- Mouthwash containing chlorhexidine (e.g. Savacol or Corsodyl) can assist with certain types of gum disease. However, it’s important to seek professional advice from your dentist, as your condition may require treatment.
- A medical mouthwash containing benzocaine can help to ease temporary pain caused by dental surgery or mouth sores. Saltwater-based mouthwashes can also provide short-term pain relief.
- A fresh-smelling cosmetic mouthwash is an ideal option if you’re simply seeking a temporary burst of freshness for your mouth.
While mouthwash can be a good addition to your oral hygiene routine, it’s more important to brush and floss your teeth regularly, as well as visiting your dentist for regular check-ups.
If you’d like to incorporate mouthwash into your routine and would like more advice on choosing the best mouthwash for you, talk to one of our friendly Apple Dental practitioners – make an appointment online today.