Do Mouthwashes Really Work?

Mouthwash is marketed as something that can boost your oral health by washing away food debris, adding fluoride to your mouth and leaving you with fresh breath.

But should you be using it?

mouth wash

The Benefits of Mouthwash

It's important to note that mouthwash is not usually a compulsory part of an oral health routine, and it's largely down to personal preference whether or not you keep it in your bathroom cabinet.

Essentially, mouthwashes can be a great way to add extra fluoride to your mouth. Fluoride is an important component in toothpaste, as it can reduce your chances of tooth decay. That’s why it's often added to the water supply in many towns and cities around Australia. This works because fluoride helps to remineralise the enamel on your teeth after the acids in your food work to demineralise this protective coating. That said, brushing twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste usually provides all you need for your teeth, even if there's no fluoride in your water supply.

Another reason to use a mouthwash is to help wash away any food debris that gets stuck in your teeth. The swishing and gargling motions can help to dislodge any pieces left over, and this can be a great way to reach areas you don't often get to with a brush and floss. Again, however, you don't necessarily need a specific mouthwash to make this happen - a simple glass of water will do the same trick!

Mouthwash also offers the obvious - an incredibly fresh feeling mouth. There's no denying the fantastic feeling of having just cleaned and rinsed your teeth, so it's no surprise that this is a common reason for keeping it on hand.

The Risks of Mouthwash

For some people, mouthwashes can have varying side-effects such as sensitivity and teeth staining.

Many types of mouthwash contain alcohol and those with high-alcohol content have been known to cause dry mouth, which is one of the reasons behind bad breath. Additionally, using mouthwash when mouth ulcers are present can sometimes irritate ulcers further.

Although research hasn’t been conclusive, there is also ongoing controversy in the last few decades to suggest that alcohol-containing mouthwashes (greater than 25% alcohol content) are linked to a greater risk of oral cancer. Speak with your dentist or hygienist if you’re unsure about which type of mouthwash would be right for you.

The Final Verdict

Overall, mouthwash is certainly not something that can replace a regular brushing and flossing routine, as you need both of these habits to do the heavy lifting in looking after your teeth and gums. That said, it can be a fantastic tool if you like to freshen up after meals during the day when you can't brush, or as a follow-up to your usual routine for that unbelievably clean feeling.

Seek a Professional for Further Help

Again, if you’re unsure about whether or not mouthwash is something you may benefit from, you should talk to your dentist. They’ll be able to give you advice based on your own oral health and offer insight as to whether it may be right for you. For all patients residing in the Sunshine Coast, Noosaville, and surrounding suburbs, our dentist in Noosa is here to help you! Don't hesitate to contact us for further information.