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THE SCOOP ON MOUTHWASH - How well does it work?

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

You bought a mouthwash that claimed to whiten teeth, freshen breath and reduce your risk of decay and none of those dreams are coming true. It's discouraging. With so many different mouthwashes on the market, it's hard for patients to choose which one is best if any. Let's look at the rationale for rinses and explore alternatives.


Rinsing the mouth, even with water, definitely helps remove debris. The #plaque layer absorbs the liquid and swells, making it a bit easier to remove with a brush and floss. Notice I am not suggesting any rinse take the place of mechanically scraping off the plaque with a #toothbrush and floss.


So, let's face it, many people buy a mouthwash to cover bad breath. While the intense odor neutralizers work temporarily, the result is usually short-lived. A typical #mouthwash can not address the underlying cause of bad breath.


Some mouth rinsers have "antimicrobial" (bacteria-killing) additives that claim to reduce gingivitis or plaque. Listerine has been the most popular over-the-counter antimicrobial rinse and has some effectiveness. The problem is that the antiseptic essential oils must be dissolved in alcohol (27 percent ethanol) and alcohol rinses are not recommended for long-term use. Studies reveal an added risk of oral cancer as a result of swishing #alcohol against the mucosa on a habitual basis.


Be skeptical of rinses that make your teeth feel smooth. Detergents (or surfactants) create a slippery film over your existing situation and make your tongue say "Oooh, Ahhh". Detergents, unfortunately, do not provide a solution to plaque control.


What about cavity protection and whitening? Rinses with fluoride molecules help protect the tooth from absorbing dangerous acids, but over-the-counter rinses don't contain an effective concentration of fluoride. And lightning agents must have enough time to influence the inner layer of #tooth structure, the dentin. Rinses don't quite cut it.


In short, there is no substitute for regular preventive dental examination and professional cleaning. It might be best to rinse with water before brushing and flossing and if needed let your dentist prescribe the right short-term therapeutic Mouth Rinse for your personal situation.



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