Is it good to use mouthwash?

For many people, mouthwash has become a part of their daily oral care routine. It may be good to use mouthwash for your dental health, if it is used along with brushing and flossing, not just as a substitute. From a dentist’s perspective, regular check-ups and cleans with your dentist should also be maintained to enhance your oral health.

Our team has put together a guide on mouthwash including how often you should use it, types of mouthwash, how safe it is for kids, its effectiveness, and the benefits of mouthwash.

Mouthwash and toothbrush on a bench

How often should you use mouthwash?

As mentioned above, mouthwash may only form one part of your oral health routine. This is important to mention as many people often make the mistake of thinking that it can replace some other parts of their dental routine like brushing or flossing.

Mouthwashes do come with benefits and incorporating an antibacterial mouthwash into your current routine can not only help fight bad breath, but also assists in keeping your mouth clean by reducing plaque and bacteria.

However, it is important to note that you can overuse mouthwash. It should only be used a maximum of twice per day. Overuse of mouthwash symptoms include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Inflamed/painful gums
  • Minimised taste sensitivity
  • Mouth sores

Furthermore, if overused, mouthwash may cause sensitivity in your teeth and their roots, and irritate oral issues that may already be present. If you have used too much mouthwash and any of these symptoms are present, please consult your dentist.

Types of mouthwash

Wondering what type of mouthwash to use for you? Walk into your dental care aisle of your local supermarket, you will notice just how many types of mouthwash products there are on the market.

It can be confusing to know which one is right for you! It could be matter of trying a couple of different mouthwashes to find the right one. Furthermore, you could choose one to suit your oral care needs or by what you would like to achieve by using a mouthwash. This could include:

  • Fighting bad breath – simply choose one that you like the smell of
  • Adding extra fluoride – some mouthwashes have added fluoride to fight decay
  • Alcohol free – these are especially suited for people concerned about dry mouth, as alcohol may dry your mouth
  • Gum disease – choose one with the ingredient ‘chlohexidine’ or advised by your dentist
  • Sensitive teeth – a product that is specifically made for people with sensitive teeth would be suitable

In addition to the type of mouthwash, there are also many brands. A popular brand is Listerine, which offers several different types of mouthwash under its umbrella. There is also:

  • Colgate
  • Biotene
  • Sensodyne
  • Oral B

Furthermore, most large supermarket chains, like Coles, also offer their own brand of mouthwash.

Is it safe for kids to use?

This is something that gets asked a lot in dental practices. Parents tend to get concerned that brushing and flossing may not be sufficient for their child and wonder about including mouthwash into their oral care routine.

Firstly, it is important to note that mouthwash is not recommended for children under the age of six years old. Secondly, a child’s mouth, teeth and gums can be sensitive, especially when they are still at the age of having their baby teeth. Therefore, it is important that we do not allow kids to overuse dental products.

Lastly, if children are practicing good oral health, including brushing, flossing and six-monthly check-ups and cleans at the dentist, there might be no need to add mouthwash into their routine.

However, if your child is older and you feel they are ready or could benefit from using a mouthwash, you could look at getting them one to try. Some things to remember when your child uses a mouthwash includes:

  • Choose one that is alcohol free
  • Be there when your child uses it – supervise them and depending on the child’s age, hold it for them
  • Teach them how to use it – go over the steps with them so they understand how to use it correctly
  • Store out of their reach – ensure it is stored somewhere they cannot access it

In addition, it is highly recommended that you consult your dentist prior to letting your child use mouthwash. They will be able to provide you with a recommendation based on your child’s current routine and oral health.

Furthermore, it is important to note that while mouthwash may remove some of the ‘bad’ bacteria living in your child’s mouth, it may also remove the ‘good’ bacteria as well. Each of us have both good and bad bacteria that live in and on our body, including within the mouth. There is concern that too much mouthwash will remove these good bacteria, which are essential to maintaining bodily functions.

How effective is mouthwash?

So how well does mouthwash work and does it deliver on what is promises to do? In regard to fighting bad breath and delivering a fresher feeling in your mouth, it can be concluded that it certainly does this.

However, does it really kill bad bacteria and help to fight gum disease? This question can be quite confusing as there are so many different opinions and studies that go both ways.

In recent times, there have been suggestions linking mouthwash use to developing oral cancer. Research suggests that alcohol may be a risk factor for oral cancer, so the link is there due to the alcohol content in some mouthwashes. However, other health issues, family health history, and general alcohol consumption may also play a part in an individual’s risk level of developing oral cancer. Therefore, it cannot be guaranteed that mouthwash is an independent risk factor. Moderation, as always, is key.

In short, mouthwash may benefit your oral health and assist in combating bad bacteria and gum disease, but only when it is used correctly and does not replace other main methods of dental care. It is vital that you still brush twice per day, floss at least once per day, and visit your dentist for a check-up and clean every six months.

Furthermore, the type of product you use must be considered carefully depending on your requirements. For example, if you suffer from dry mouth choose one that is alcohol free.

What are the benefits of mouthwash?

There are many benefits from using mouthwash. These include:

  • Combating bad breath and freshen your breath
  • Fighting the bad bacteria in your mouth
  • Assisting in decreasing plaque
  • Aiding in fighting gum disease

Furthermore, as discussed previously, it is vital to continue your current dental hygiene and oral care routine. In addition, you may want to make it an added benefit, not the sole method of care.

Brushing your teeth (if you can use an electric toothbrush is even better!), flossing and maintaining your dental visits, all combine to achieve optimal oral health.

In addition, if you have questions relating to the use of mouthwash and are not sure whether it’s for you, please ensure you consult with your dentist.

Dentist on the Gold Coast

If you are on the Gold Coast, in the Tweed Shire or Brisbane and are looking to stay on top of your oral health, contact one of our friendly practices today. Alternatively, you can book an appointment online 24/7.