Many patients ask me if mouthwash actually is beneficial to them.  If you believe everything you see on TV or in print, then you and I need to talk for a long time.  But the truth of the matter is, mouthwash is not necessary for healthy teeth and/or gums.

It’s not a surprise that many patients ask about the benefits of using a mouthwash product or for a recommendation of a specific brand.  If you enter the dental section of your local grocery or drug store, you’ll find rows and rows of mouthwash (also known as mouthrinse) products in an array of flavors and colors.  It’s an overwhelming selection to choose from, before you even start to read the supposed ‘benefits’ offered by the different products.

You should be aware that many mouthwashes make over-the-top claims about what they can do to help you care for your teeth, gums and health. Some offer ‘round the clock protection” from plaque, bacteria and bad breath; while other products make absurd claims to actually make your teeth stronger with fortification ingredients.  Can a mouthwash or rinse actually live up to all these claims and make a difference in the health of your teeth?

Mouthwash – The FAQS

First, you should know the dental mouthwash products amount to $689 million-a-year industry. That industry, and number of different mouthwash products available on the market, continues to grow thanks to the marketing claims they attach to the product.  Before you buy another bottle of the blue, green, yellow or pink stuff, here are facts you need to know about mouthwash, rinses, bad breath and dental hygiene:

  • Mouthwash may be useful for:  a fast, easy way to freshen breath, to leave the mouth with a pleasant taste or to rinse and remove debris from the mouth.
  • Typically, mouthwash ingredients include water, alcohol, cleansing agents, flavoring ingredients, coloring agents and various active ingredients according to the type of product.
  • Mouthwashes don’t deal with the causes of bad breath. They don’t kill the bacteria that cause bad breath or chemically inactivate odor causing compounds.
  • According to the American Dental Association: “Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting beneficial effect on bad breath. If you must constantly use a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odor, see your dentist.”

Since an estimated 25 percent of Americans have chronic bad breath, the mouthwash has become the go-to remedy to mask odor, but it doesn’t fix the concern or help your health.

Due to the limited penetration abilities of an oral rinse, mouthwashes really are effective only on bacteria on the surface of the teeth.  Healthy teeth and gums are properly maintained by brushing and flossing correctly and having routine dental cleanings and checkups.  In other words, a dentist can diagnose and treat bad breath and keep it from returning in the future. Now that’s a cure to the problem!

What Does Mouthwash Actually Accomplish? 

It is an effective temporary cover up of minor mouth odors.  It masks bad breath, onion or garlic breath.  It is not an effective solution for the actual cause of bad breath.  If you make healthy teeth a priority of your personal hygiene routine, then you should really have no reason to use mouthwash on a daily basis.

What causes bad breath? 

Many food items can cause a temporary odiferous oral environment; garlic, onions, coffee.  But bad breath can come in many other forms also.

  • Bacterial plaque on the teeth and tongue is a major player in the bad breath
  • Gastric reflux can certainly cause mouth odors
  • Chronic sinus infection and/or drainage
  • Medications can also disrupt the normal flora of your mouth creating an oral disharmony

In summary, making your oral health a priority is the primary factor in controlling bad breath.  Daily flossing and thorough brushing plus regular dental visits will be your most important step in controlling a malodorous mouth.  If you still feel you must use mouthwash, I would recommend that you choose a mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Ready to greet the world with fresh breath and a bright smile?  Contact us for a consultation appointment today  or call 407-869-7333 because your dental health is our passion!