Should I be using mouthwash?

Should I be using mouthwash?

Mouthwash can be useful for rinsing away food debris and bacteria after brushing. If you enjoy mouthwash it's good to note that while it's not an essential part of a good oral hygiene routine it doesn’t do any harm either, and might help fight bad breath.


Often people like rinsing with mouthwash after they’re finished brushing. They feel that the mouthwash is clearing away whatever loose debris left over after brushing.

While this is true, rinsing with water after brushing actually does the same job.

It's important to note that mouthwash is a good addition to a proper oral hygiene routine, it is not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. That said, it can help freshen your breath, and it’s mostly harmless.

This may surprise you, if you’ve heard about the studies over the years that connect mouthwash use to things like cancer and heart disease.

One recent study in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that some mouthwashes could raise blood pressure by wiping out a type of mouth bacteria that helps the body generate nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is known to play a critical role in protecting the cardiovascular system, including regulating blood pressure.

However, this study focused on mouthwashes that contain a strong antibacterial agent called chlorhexidine. These particular mouthwashes are usually only available by prescription. This study was also very small, just 19 participants, therefore more research is required to support its findings.

Studies since the 1990's have suggested that mouthwashes that contain alcohol may contribute to the development of oral cancers. Many experts believe that these studies are flawed, and focus on excessive mouthwash use of three or more rinses a day.

Additionally, several review studies have failed to find links between alcohol in mouthwash and cancer.

That said, it's still important to note that mouthwashes with alcohol in them can dry out your mouth, so if you have issues with dry mouth, choose an alcohol-free variety.

When it comes to antiseptic or antibacterial mouth rinses only people who have gum disease or with harmful types of oral bacteria should use these types of rinses. If you're thinking of using one, be sure to consult with your dentist first.

Select a mild mouthwash without alcohol or strong antibacterial agents if you have healthy teeth and a healthy mouth .

Mouthwash may feel nice and refreshing to use, but it really doesn’t do much other than (possibly) help reduce bad breath. If you like mouthwash, there’s no medical reason not to use it in moderation, but if you want to save some money, just rinse with water instead.

Have more questions about caring for your oral health? Contact our Surrey dentists to book an appointment.

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