What Does Mouthwash Do?

Most people enjoy that refreshingly minty swivel of mouthwash at the end of their oral hygiene routine. It feels like the perfect finisher – a way to ensure your mouth stays clean and fresh for the entire day. Is it genuinely beneficial, though, or is it simply a way to feel like your mouth is clean? There's been a little debate over the years as to whether or not mouthwash is worthwhile. In this article, find out what mouthwash does and if it is worth your time. 

What Exactly is Mouthwash?

Let's start by understanding what mouthwash is. You'll likely have seen plenty of different types of mouthwash in supermarkets and other general stores – in fact, there's probably a bottle sitting next to your bathroom sink! Mouthwash is a bottled liquid that gets swished around the mouth before being rinsed out. The ingredients of a mouthwash include chlorhexidine, menthol, peroxide, fluoride, and benzoic acid – although, keep in mind that each mouthwash product will contain its own unique set of ingredients. 

What's the Purpose of Mouthwash?

Mouthwash's purpose is to freshen the mouth and reduce bad breath. It's also a way of controlling tooth decay, preventing unwanted plaque and cavities inside the mouth. Overall, mouthwash is an additional component of an oral hygiene routine – a way to enhance protection and freshness. 

The Benefits of Using Mouthwash

Mouthwash undoubtedly has its advantages, and they include: 

It Reduces Plaque

Mouthwash can help reduce plaque in between the teeth. It does this by getting into areas of the teeth your toothbrush may not have gotten to and rinsing them out. Plus, certain mouthwashes – like those containing fluoride – offer extra protection against plaque. 

Fresh Breath

Most people love using mouthwash because of the super fresh feeling it provides. Most mouthwashes come with a minty taste that leaves your mouth smelling pretty pleasant. It's not just the mint, though – mouthwash also contains ingredients that help with killing bacteria, which also helps eliminate nasty smells. 

The Disadvantages of Using Mouthwash 

Unfortunately, mouthwash isn't the perfect fix. Here are some of the disadvantages: 

It Can Dry Your Mouth Out

For those who suffer from a dry mouth, mouthwash may not be the best solution. Most mouthwashes come with alcohol as an ingredient, which lessens the amount of saliva in your mouth and actually increases bad breath – the exact opposite of what you're aiming for! The good news is that alcohol-free mouthwashes are available for people who want to avoid a dry mouth. 

It May Mask Bad Breath (rather than treating it)

Using mouthwash gives you that lovely, fresh feeling inside of the mouth. After using it, you are less likely to worry about having bad breath throughout the day. Does it work at targeting the source of bad breath, though? The answer is no, it doesn't. In a healthy mouth, mouthwash isn't too much of a problem and can add a minty scent. However, those with active bad breath will find it only masks the problem. The issue here is that ongoing bad breath always has an underlying cause and it's essential to treat the problem at its root rather than try to mask it. 

It Can Be Irritating

Most people can use mouthwash just fine, but those with any sore inside their mouth (or even on their lips) may experience irritation and discomfort. For example, it would likely hurt to use mouthwash when you have canker sores, as the ingredients will make it sting. 

It May Wash Fluoride Away

One of the problems with mouthwash is that it may wash the benefits of a fluoride toothpaste away. Most kinds of toothpaste contain fluoride, which is essential for improving your oral health by providing a protective layer, and mouthwash can rinse this protection away in an instant, undoing all that goodness. 

How to Use Mouthwash Effectively

As you can see, there are both good reasons to use mouthwash and some disadvantages that may put you off the minty liquid. Don't worry – if you're a fan of using mouthwash, you don't have to ditch it entirely. Instead, learn how to use mouthwash effectively so it improves your oral health (rather than worsens it). 

Find the Right Mouthwash

The type of mouthwash you use makes a big difference. Mouthwash that contains fluoride is better, as it will protect the teeth and reduce plaque and gingivitis. Avoid cosmetic mouthwashes that only control bad breath on a temporary basis without many additional benefits. If you have a dry mouth, always avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, opting for alcohol-free mouthwashes that won't dry you out instead. 

Swish for 30 Seconds

To get the full effect of the mouthwash, keep it in your mouth and swish it around for 30 seconds before rinsing. That way, you'll gain all the benefits from the ingredients inside the mouthwash. It will feel a lot fresher, too! 

Consider Using Before Toothpaste

If you're worried about the mouthwash washing away your fluoride toothpaste, there is a simple solution: use mouthwash before brushing your teeth. When doing this, the best order is to start with flossing, follow that up with a mouthwash rinse, and then complete the routine with brushing the teeth (without rinsing afterwards). It's a slightly different order to what most people are used to, but it does work well!

Mouthwash: Helpful When Used Correctly

Mouthwash can be a refreshing, helpful addition to anyone's oral hygiene routine, but don't rely on it too much and learn how to use it correctly. Remember that some mouthwashes are better than others, so it's always worth looking closely at the ingredients. A mouthwash without alcohol works better for those with dry mouths, and a fluoride mouthwash can be better for preventing plaque. 

Are you ready to improve your dental health? Perhaps you have some dental worries you want to get seen to. The team here at BAFDentistry are always happy to help new patients, so get in touch with us today. We offer a range of dental services to suit your needs, leaving you with clean, healthy teeth you can be proud of.