What is Mouthwash?

Mouthwash does more than simply freshen your breath. It can fight cavities, gum disease and even help protect against early labour! There are certainly a number of key advantages in using mouthwash, but it’s not the magic cure-all liquid that it seems to be at first glance. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of using mouthwash to help you decide what’s best for you and your family:

The Benefits of Mouthwash

  • Fresh Breath: one of the most obvious benefits of using mouthwash is the minty fresh breath that comes with a swig of it. Many people love the cool, fresh feeling that using mouthwash brings.
  • Fights cavities: Mouthwash containing fluoride helps to rinse and neutralise cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Prevents gum disease: Antibacterial mouthwash helps to prevent gum disease, which develops when gums become inflamed or infected due to bacteria and plaque build-up.
  • Soothes canker sores: Canker sores are mouth ulcers that appear in the mouth or on the tongue, making talking and eating uncomfortable. Mouthwash can act to neutralise the area by reducing the amount of bacteria around the sores that can cause irritation.
  • Protect your pregnancy: gum disease is common during pregnancy and sometimes the bacteria from the gum infection can enter the bloodstream of the pregnant woman. This can result in inflammatory markers increasing and can cause early contractions. By acting to fight the bacteria that causes gum disease, mouthwash helps to protect against this.

The Cons of Mouthwash

  • It’s not a cure for bad breath: Although mouthwash does leave you with a fresh feeling, people with poor oral hygiene might find that the effect is short-lived. It is best to discuss your bad breath with your dentist to treat the underlying issue. Some food and drink can help.
  • Alcohol irritates the mouth: Some mouthwash contains high level of alcohol and while this works to disinfect the mouth and kill bacteria, alcohol also irritates the mouth and can cause a burning sensation. Alcoholic mouthwash can also irritate canker sores rather than helping to heal them.
  • Potential link to cancer: As with the controversy over deodorant, the debate continues over whether or not alcoholic mouthwash is linked to oral cancer. Studies continue to be undertaken.

The Verdict

Most dentists agree that using mouthwash does not replace proper oral health care and that it is more important to brush and floss twice per day than to use mouthwash. Nevertheless, non-alcoholic mouthwash is a healthy addition to any oral health care routine. 

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