While mouthwash is commonly used to get rid of bad breath right before meeting someone special, it is also used to keep the mouth healthy and clean. Some people use it daily, claiming that it provides them with an even cleaner mouth. Others do not use it, claiming that the cons are worse than the pros. So what’s the truth about mouthwash, which claims to be a plaque remover, teeth whitener, and gum-disease fighter?
Pros for Mouthwash
- Cut down on cavities. By rinsing with fluoride, there is a reduction in demineralization and cavities according to numerous studies.
- Fight gum disease. With periodontal disease (such as gingivitis), gums and tooth sockets can get inflamed or infected because of plaque from bacteria and food that lingers on teeth. An antibacterial mouthwash, like one with alcohol or chlorhexidine, may help prevent gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Soothe canker sores. Mouthwash can soothe a canker sore by detoxing the area and reducing the amount of bacteria that can irritate the site. However, a saltwater rinse has the same effect in many cases.
- Reduce pregnancy complications. Periodontal disease is a big risk factor for giving birth to preterm, low-weight babies—the bacteria from a gum infection can get into a pregnant woman’s bloodstream and increase inflammatory markers, which then stimulate contractions. Moms who use mouthwash are thus less likely to go into early labor.
Mouthwash clearly offers certain benefits, but not all mouthwashes are the same and offer as many benefits. There are some negative sides to mouthwash that you should know about.
Cons for Mouthwash
Mouthwash can be bad because it:
- Irritates canker sores. Despite being soothing in most instances, if the alcohol content of your mouth rinse is too high, it may actually end up irritating the canker sore more than helping it.
- Masks bad breath. Mouthwash may increase the population that does not practice proper toothbrushing. The fresh breath associated with mouthwash is short-lived and can reduce the signs of poor oral health.
- Has been linked to oral cancer. Though the debate is ongoing has been continuing since the 1970s when alcohol-containing mouthwashes were first questioned, there are no answers as to whether or not alcohol can be directly correlated with developing oral cancer. As of now, the ADA has put its Seal of Acceptance on some mouth rinses containing alcohol after it extensively reviewed their effectiveness and safety.
The most important thing to remember is that mouthwash is not a substitute for toothbrushing. Even though mouthwash can help reduce gum disease, it aids and must be used in conjunction with good dental hygiene. What works for one may not work for another, so contact your dentist or call our office today to find out whether you should be adding mouthwash to your daily regime.