Is Mouthwash Necessary to Dental Health?


We often talk about the importance of brushing your teeth, how to floss correctly, and of course making sure to keep regular dental checkups, but what about mouthwash? Is mouthwash necessary to dental health, and if so, do you need it every day? What, if any, benefits does it have? Our Fuquay-Varina dentist is sharing everything you need to know about mouthwash.

Mouthwash Is an Addition to a Dental Care Routine

The most common question we are asked about mouthwash is, “Is it necessary?” and honestly, no. Mouthwash doesn’t remove plaque – that’s a job for your toothbrush and dental floss. Those are capable of removing the particles that feed bacteria and bacteria-filled plaque that mouthwash doesn’t. However, it can be a helpful tool in the fight against cavities and decay by killing off the dangerous bacteria that causes decay and gum disease. Think of it as an addition to your dental care routine, NOT a replacement.

We also want to note that children under six shouldn’t use mouthwash, and it’s something you should talk to a pediatric dentist or family dentist about before starting with older children.

Choosing the Right Mouthwash

With rows and rows of mouthwash lining the shelves of your grocery store or pharmacy, which one should you choose? First, consider there are two types of mouthwash:

  1. Cosmetic – It has a pleasant taste and will temporarily improve bad breath, but it doesn’t kill bacteria or provide long-lasting dental benefits.
  2. Therapeutic – It kills bacteria and has active ingredients that are proven to provide dental benefits.

Therapeutic mouthwashes will contain ingredients like:

  • Cetylpyridinium chloride, which kills bacteria that causes bad breath;
  • Chlorhexidine, which kills the bacteria that causes plaque and gingivitis;
  • Fluoride is used to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay;
  • Peroxide is used for whitening and as an anti-bacterial ingredient.

Most ADA-approved mouthwashes will contain one of these ingredients, and legally, no mouthwash can make a medical claim, such as “Kills bacteria,” “Prevents gingivitis,” etc, unless it has been proven to do so with proper usage.

There are also organic and natural mouthrinses that are ADA-approved if you prefer that option, and if you want to use a store brand, compare ingredients to be certain you’re choosing one that treats or supports your dental care needs.

Using a Mouthrinse Effectively

In order for your mouthwash to work effectively, you need to use it the right way. First, make sure your teeth are freshly brushed. Leaving plaque on them while you rinse won’t do as much good (Remember – oral rinses don’t remove plaque!).

Only use the recommended amount, swish around in the mouth for 30 seconds, then gargle for 30 seconds (consider setting a timer for this). We’re sure you know to avoid swallowing any of the rinse, but we need to say it anyway to be sure to spit it out when you’re done.

Make Sure to Schedule a Dental Checkup

If you’re concerned about bad breath, gingivitis, or decay, or it’s simply been more than six months since your last dental checkup, we can help. Sometimes bad breath is a symptom of a more serious issue, and other issues, like dry mouth or mouth sores would benefit from a prescription mouth rinse. To learn more, call us at 919-552-2431 or schedule an appointment today.