Does Mouthwash Work?

Brush, and rinse with mouthwash: that’s what a lot of people’s morning routines look like. Good, right? Well… It turns out that mouthwash is a very divisive topic in oral hygiene, and it’s not as simple as “good” or “bad”.

First of all, let’s clarify that there are two general types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic. 

Cosmetic mouthwashes are the type that most people use. You find them at the grocery store, and if you can stand the burning sensation in your mouth for 30 seconds, they’ll give you minty fresh breath.

Cosmetic mouthwashes are not made to treat or solve any actual oral problems you may suffer from, including bad breath. Sorry, that effect is only temporary. If you want a mouthwash that actually achieves something, you’ll need to step up to a therapeutic mouthwash.

The therapeutic variants are made to treat specific problems. Some are available over the counter at your local chemist, while some will need to be prescribed to you by your dentist.

Therapeutic mouthwashes can be part of the treatment plan for a number of ailments, including these:

  • Mouth ulcers and canker sores
  • Gingivitis, or inflamed gums
  • Halitosis, or bad breath
  • Mouth infections
  • Dry mouth or inability to produce enough saliva

These are all effective because they are essentially medicine recommended or prescribed to you with the express purpose of treating a problem you have. So what about the type of mouthwash that most people use: cosmetic mouthwash?

Well, it turns out they’re not all they’re hyped up to be.

First of all, they wreak havoc on the bacteria in your oral cavity. Obviously, bacteria cause cavities, so the mouthwashes intend to destroy those bacteria. The problem is that there are good bacteria in there as well, and they become collateral damage, which is very bad for your microbiome.

By killing the good bacteria in your mouth, you can actually dry out your mouth and cause more cavities, according to Dr. Mark Burhenne.

To answer your question: does mouthwash work? Yes, but also no.

It does destroy the bad bacteria in your mouth and give you breath that smells nice. But it also destroys the good bacteria, and the fresh breath is only temporary.

All told, it’s probably a waste of your money. The best way to keep your oral hygiene in tip top shape is still to brush your teeth properly, floss daily and clean your tongue!

You should always consult a dentist before making changes to your dental care routine. Book an appointment with one of our wonderful dentists today.

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