Listerine, Scope Crest, Act and Plax. We see these dental hygiene products lined up on store shelves. But what does mouthwash do?
And if it does anything, it is worth the extra cost and effort?
Mouthwashes and rinses are a billion dollar industry in the United States. Each year, these companies sell a total of over $1 billion in products, which include cosmetic and therapeutic mouthwashes.
Before getting started, let’s go through its definition.
What is Mouthwash?
According to the American Dental Association, mouthwashes are after brushing and flossing. This liquid is not to be swallowed. You only swish it in your mouth then spit it out.
Mouthwashes are used to:
- to help prevent and control tooth decay
- freshen breath
- prevent or reduce gingivitis
- fight or lower plaque
- reduce the formation of tartar in your teeth
It also adds that most products have these common ingredients:
- Antimicrobial agents which fight plaque development
- Fluoride for tooth decay protection
- Astringent salts that mask bad breath and temporarily get rid of odors
- Odor neutralizers
Most of the time though, people use mouthwashes and rinses for more aesthetic purposes. It is a quick way of getting minty or sweet fresh breath.
Types of Mouthwashes
As mentioned earlier, mouthwashes or mouthrinses are often divided into two main categories: cosmetic and therapeutic.
As the name says, they’re purpose is more for external appearances. These products work well in getting rid of and neutralizing bad breath, odors and unwanted tastes.
However, they aren’t designed to get to the root of the problem. So in effect, they’re temporary fixes.
These mouthwashes aren’t capable of killing bacteria or get rid of the cause of the odors. They also don’t prevent or reduce cavities and plaque.
Therapeutic mouthrinses meanwhile, go step further. They work at the cause. They remove the plaque that’s left behind after brushing. This helps get rid of the cause of bad breath.
It also helps prevent the development of tartar and gum disease.
A Note on Mouthwashes and Mouthrinses
The one thing that all dentists will tell you is that rinsing with a mouthwash along is not a substitute for brushing or flossing. It is meant to complement them by providing extra protection against cavities and gum disease.
What Does Mouthwash Do?
Essentially, mouthwashes help with oral hygiene. They prevent or reduce cavities and fight gum disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 17.5% of kids in the U.S. have some form of tooth decay or problem.
This figure increases to 27.4% for adults between the ages of 20 and 44 years old.
This makes it important to use the proper tools, which include brushing, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash.
Nature has provided use with saliva, which is our natural mouthwash. It helps keep cavities and prevents gum diseases like gingivitis. However, it often isn’t enough.
- Mouthwashes get rid or odor causing bacteria and germs. This helps prevent the development of more serious dental problems like tooth decay and cavities.
- It freshens breath and neutralizes bad odors. This gives us great smelling breath.
- Some mouthwashes include fluoride, which is the active ingredient in most toothpastes. Fluoride protects our teeth by strengthening its enamel. This assists in preventing tooth decay.
So we’ve listed the things a mouthwash does for our dental health. The question now is, does it work? Should we be spending our money buying these things? And then 30 seconds gargling, swishing and spitting.
The good news is yes.
Research shows that mouthwashes are proven to freshen breath, reduce bacteria and its buildup. They also provides protection against cavities and gum disease.
Here’s a video from Listerine’s laboratory where they run tests on oral bacteria and their product formulations. The video shows how mouthwashes increase dental health and gum disease protection compared to just brushing alone.
What Mouthwash Doesn’t Do
While mouthwashes do a lot for oral health, there are some things they can’t do.
One is, they can’t dislodge or remove food that’s stuck between your teeth. Swishing and gargling does help as the liquid flowing around the mouth can sometimes loosen particles that are stuck on teeth surfaces or between them.
They aren’t also able to thoroughly clean each tooth’s surface. This is what toothbrushes are for. Its bristles are designed to gently glide across each tooth’s surface to scrub away any debris that’s there.
For optimal cleaning on and between teeth, brushing and flossing is needed.
How to Use Mouthwash Properly
Finally, here’s an instructional video on how to rinse with a mouthwash.
To close, mouthwashes or mouthrinses are a great tool for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. They’re meant to be used with brushing and flossing to ensure good dental health. Together these tools prevent cavity and gum disease. They also ensure that your pearly whites stay clean.