For many people, using mouthwash is a regular part of the dental hygiene routine. However, patients rarely understand exactly what their mouthwash is doing or why it is important. If you've been blindly using mouthwash for years, learning a little more about these products will ensure you choose the one that's right for you, use it properly, and experience the maximum benefits associated with using mouthwash. Here's a look at four frequently asked questions about mouthwash, and their informative answers.
What is the difference between regular mouthwash and fluoride mouthwash?
Standard, anti-cavity mouthwashes kill oral bacteria, reducing your risk of cavities and gum disease. If you see a mouthwash that is labeled "fluoride rinse" or "contains fluoride," this mouthwash is meant to help strengthen tooth enamel. Generally, dentists like Pastucka Martin J DDS recommend fluoride mouthwashes for patients who have weak enamel or have been extra prone to cavities in the past. If you have not had these problems, stick to a standard, non-fluoride mouthwash unless your dentist recommends otherwise.
Does mouthwash have to burn to work?
Though the burning sensation in mouthwash is often said to be caused by the alcohol most mouthwashes contain, it is actually caused by the essential oils that are in the rinses. Some people experience a harsher burning sensation when using mouthwash than do others. This does not mean that the mouthwash is or is not working – it's simply a side effect that some people experience. If the burning sensation bothers you, try switching to a low-alcohol mouthwash, as these typically contain fewer essential oils, too. You can also try diluting your mouthwash with water to lessen the burn. It won't be quite as effective, but it's better than nothing.
Are there all-natural mouthwashes that are safe and effective?
There are a number of all-natural mouthwashes on the market that are great for people who are sensitive to the dyes and essential oils in conventional mouthwashes. Look for one with the ADA seal to ensure you're getting a dentist-approved, effective product. Often, the active ingredient in these mouthwashes is salt, which is known for killing oral bacteria. You can make your own safe, natural mouthwash by just combining a teaspoon of salt and a cup of warm water. It won't taste too good, but it will get the job done.
Why does your breath sometime still smell bad after using mouthwash?
Mouthwash can help freshen your breath if your bad breath is due to the presence of oral bacteria. However, if your bad breath is attributable to tooth decay or tonsil problems, using mouthwash won't make the problem better. If your bad breath lingers in spite of regular mouthwash use, see your dentist for diagnosis and treatment.
Using a commercial mouthwash according to the instructions on the label is a good way to improve your oral hygiene routine. Just remember, it's not intended to be a replacement for brushing and flossing – just an extra step.