Mouthwash has been beside bathroom sinks for as long as can be remembered. It’s your complementary buddy, aside from your toothbrush and toothpaste, when it comes to taking care of your dental health and preventing oral diseases from taking over. But most people don’t realize that they should have a better understanding of the mouthwash products they use to better maintain their oral care!
The Benefits of Mouthwash
TV ads often say that certain mouthwashes can help kill 99.9% of germs in your mouths. But have you ever wondered if there are other things mouth rinses can do for your oral health? Let’s find out.
1. It helps prevent the growth of plaque
Plaque is a yellow or colorless sticky film found in the mouth that actually contains a lot of bacteria. It continually forms on and between your teeth and gum line, and if left unchecked, can cause cavities and various gum diseases.
Mouth rinses can help prevent plaque from building up in your mouth, but do take note that mouthwashes cannot remove the plaque that is already in your mouth. To get rid of this, regular brushing should always be part of your dental regime.
2. It has ingredients that can combat cavity build-up
Over time, your teeth’s enamel gets weaker because of a variety of factors, like sugary sodas or bacteria in your mouth. When enamel finally gets destroyed, it forms tiny holes in the hard surface of teeth called cavities. These are permanent, but can be repaired with a filling performed by a dentist.
Mouthwash products contain ingredients like fluoride or xylitol which can prevent cavities from developing as well as strengthen your enamel. Xylitol in particular can both rebuild the enamel and slow down its destruction. When you regularly rinse with a Xylitol mouthwash, you’re reversing existing tooth decay and keeping new cavities from developing.
Remember that too much fluoride can cause skeletal or dental fluorosis, which causes damage to joints, teeth, and bones. It’s better to opt for mouthwashes that contain Xylitol instead.
3. It can improve your brushing and flossing
While mouth rinse will never replace brushing or flossing, using it will supplement your efforts to keep your teeth clean and breath fresh, as well as strengthen enamel and protect teeth from acid. Some studies even show that mouthwash can reduce your plaque as well as chances of developing oral diseases compared to just brushing. Thus, combining all three will boost the effectiveness of your dental regime.
Always check the label of your mouth rinse though, because some only freshen breath, while others do a lot more than that. If you want one that can battle the bacteria in your mouth, watch out for the right ingredients.
4. It reduces the development of canker sores
Canker sores are small open wounds in your mouth that can cause difficulty in eating and swallowing. To get a clearer idea of what they are, think of them as ulcers in your mouth. They can do a lot more damage than a little discomfort as well—more severe cases will result in swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and fever.
One of the great benefits of mouthwash is it can lower the development of canker sores caused by oral acid, but only if it’s regularly used. Antibacterial mouth rinses can also be a soothing way of promoting the natural healing of any mouth sores. The next time you get a sore in your mouth, don’t forget to gargle!
5. It freshens your breath
This benefit is the one that most people are familiar with. Since most mouthwashes come with mint or other sweet flavors, it can leave a satisfying taste and refreshing feeling in your mouth after use. But why is fresh breath so important?
Most social interactions are affected negatively by bad breath, whether they’re a job interview or a blind date. If your breath smells good, you’re more likely to be confident and comfortable. Plus, you get to avoid embarrassment in social situations while keeping your mouth healthy. A good swish of mouth rinse will go a long way!
6. It’s perfect for people who have undergone dental surgery
For people who are advised by their doctors not to brush their teeth because of their post-dental-surgery state, mouthwash is the perfect cleaning agent to maintain their oral health. But once you are completely healed, you should brush and floss as well!
7. It can help in pregnancy safety
As surprising as it sounds, mouthwash can help protect mothers.
If your oral hygiene is poor, your mouth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. This is bad news for expecting mothers, because it may cause a condition called ‘Periodontal Disease’. Bacteria can enter a mother’s bloodstream, causing complications in pregnancy such as premature labor.
So what better way to reduce these risks than a complete oral health regime that includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash? It’s better to be safe than sorry.
8. It prevents or reduces the risk of gingivitis
Gingivitis is a condition in the part of our gums called gingiva. It causes swelling, redness, and irritation that can lead to more severe problems if left unchecked.
Using mouthwash, especially one with antimicrobial properties, can prevent and lower the risks of gingivitis. If done regularly, you deter plaque from accumulating around and between your teeth, which is what causes gingivitis. When you pair this healthy habit with regular brushing and flossing, you are better equipped to effectively combat gum diseases.
9. It can help whiten your teeth
Though most mouthwash products are not really intended to whiten teeth because they lack teeth whitening agents, they can still remove the stains that your toothbrush may have missed. That may be enough for some people to get noticeable results. If the color of your teeth is really problematic, you can also go for mouth rinses containing bleaching agents that will do the job.
10. It can save you from costly medical treatments
Mouthwash complements your existing oral healthcare solutions, and so, it prevents any serious oral conditions from taking place by maintaining your teeth and mouth’s cleanliness every day.
Why does mouthwash contain alcohol?
It is widely accepted that alcohol in mouthwash can kill bacteria in your mouth. But the truth is, this is just a M-Y-T-H. The concentration of alcohol is too low to even kill the harmful microorganisms in your mouth. It can even end up killing your mouth’s good bacteria instead. The main reason why it’s in your mouthwash is because it is actually used as a preservative and as a carrier agent for ingredients like menthol.
Because alcohol-based mouth rinses are not that effective in keeping your mouth healthy, you should opt for one that contains no alcohol. Here are a few ways you can benefit from using alcohol free mouthwash.
Benefits from Using an Alcohol Free Mouthwash
- It provides a long-term solution in maintaining your oral healthcare.
- It deals with your oral health’s root problems.
- It promotes the natural balance of saliva in your mouth.
- It can help prevent other oral issues from getting worse without any negative side effects.
- It doesn’t leave a ‘burning’ feeling when you use it. The ‘burning sensation’ that comes with alcohol-based mouthwashes has nothing to do with its effectiveness, so there’s no need to put up with the discomfort if you have better options.
- There are varieties of alcohol-free mouthwash products that are flavorless or have very mild tastes. This is perfect for people who don’t like overbearing flavors or mint flavors in general.
- It moves you away from the risk of having oral cancer (which some studies link to an alcohol-based mouthwash)
- It is safe for people who are suffering from ‘Xerostomia,’ a condition where one is suffering from a chronic dry mouth.
- It is safe for people who are suffering from a decreased flow of saliva because of:
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Medicinal side effects
- Radiation therapies
- It is highly recommended for people with a history of alcohol abuse.
- It produces a better effect on hardness, gloss, and color of tooth composite restorations versus alcohol-based mouthwash.
- There are alcohol-free mouthwash products with botanical ingredients that replace ethanol as a cleaning agent. These mouthwash products contain ingredients such as spearmint leaf, licorice, bud, and spice.
- Certainly, ethanol is not the only substance that cleans your mouth. That’s why there are alcohol-free mouthwashes that use hydroxyapatite and peppermint to do the job without hurting your mouth at the same time.
- You can also find herbal-based mouthwashes to ensure that it won’t interfere with the natural process and health of your mouth. You can find one that contains aloe vera, basil, calendula, licorice root, tree oils, cinnamon, and peppermint.
How does an alcohol-free mouthwash help improve your oral health?
- There are alcohol-free mouth rinse products that contain CPC or Cetylpyridinium Chloride, which maintains and improves gingival health. This substance is widely recommended by dentists.
- Alcohol-free mouthwash products don’t distort your mouth’s natural process of producing saliva.
- Alcohol-free mouthwash products can contain a substance called ‘Xylitol,’ which helps in reducing the bacteria in your mouth.
- They do not rely on ethanol to clean your mouth from unwanted substances. Instead, they use safer substances such as oils that prevent further oral damage in your mouth.
- There are alcohol-free mouthwash products that focus on maintaining your mouth’s hydration. This can really help in maintaining your oral health care because dry mouth is the perfect breeding ground for oral bacteria.
The Risks of Dry Mouth
One major disadvantage of regularly using an alcohol-based mouthwash is it can dry your mouth. This may not sound alarming, but a dry mouth can actually cause serious problems for your oral health.
Take a look at these risks:
- A dry mouth significantly decreases the saliva in your mouth that protects your teeth from acids that cause tooth decay.
- When your mouth is dry, your lips would also follow suit, increasing the chances that sores will appear around your mouth.
- Dry mouth can cause bad breath.
- It heightens the risk of dental decay.
- It reduces your tongue’s optimum ability to taste, making it harder for you to chew and swallow.
Most people often commit the mistake of jumping to the most immediate solution or choosing what everybody is choosing. When it comes to your oral healthcare, these are the fatal mistakes you could ever commit. There might be many oral healthcare products in the market today, but we must take time in choosing the product that best suits our specific needs. And most important of all, we need a product that would be the safest choice for us.
With all the things mentioned above, it all leads us to one important thing: to be vigilant consumers and take care of our health.