Mouthwash 101

Many of us enjoy using mouthwash, especially in the morning. It freshens our mouth, and helps us to wake up. But what are the dental benefits of the mouthwash? With so many products on the market and such variation in cost, it can be difficult choosing the right mouthwash. How to find a correct mouth rinse for your needs? 

Depending on the active ingredients they contain, different type of mouthwashes can be used to prevent tooth decay, reduce dental plaque formation and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and help reduce tooth sensitivity.

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FLUORIDE MOUTHWASH

This kind of mouthwash contains compounds such as sodium fluoride or stannous fluoride and is recommended for patients who need extra daily fluoride to protect their teeth form tooth decay. It may also help reduce sensitivity.

examples of fluoride mouthwash

It is particularly useful for people who suffer from severe tooth decay, wear an orthodontic appliance (braces), suffer from dry mouth or have undergone radiotherapy to head and neck region. You can read more about fluoride mouthwash here.


ANTI-PLAQUE MOUTHWASH

It reduces the chance of getting gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) by inhibiting the accumulation of dental plaque.

The most common active ingredients include chlorhexidine gluconate, cetylpyridinium chloridetriclosan, thymol.

Clinical trials have shown that chlorhexidine, the active ingredient, has much stronger anti-bacterial properties than the other ingredients, making it great for people who suffer from oral health problems such as gingivitis or periodontitis. 

Mouthwashes containing 0.2% chlorhexidine are most effective however should not be used for longer than two weeks and only as a part of the treatment, because they may cause staining of the teeth and some other side effects, such as burning sensation in the mouth or alter taste sensation.

The examples include:



REDUCE SENSITIVITY

In general, fluoride compounds help to reduce sensitivity as fluoride makes the tooth enamel stronger. Some mouthwashes are specially formulated to combat sensitivity and in addition to fluoride, they may contain ingredients such as potassium nitrate or arginine.


ACID EROSION

Mouthwashes with high fluoride contents may help to reduce the signs of acid erosion as it helps to re-harden tooth enamel softened by acid.

Pronamel mouthwash can help to remineralise the tooth enamel

Pronamel mouthwash can help to remineralise the tooth enamel


MOUTH ULCERS AND SORE MOUTH

Some mouthwashes may help to combat minor mouth irritations, such as sores or ulcers. They include oxidising mouthwashes, such as Peroxyl®, or antibacterial mouthwashes such as Chlorhexidine Gluconate mouthwash.

Eludril mouthwash contains analgesic ingredient chlorobutanol which helps to minimise the pain; Difflam mouthwash contains benzydamine chloride, which helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

 

COSMETIC MOUTHWASH

Any mouthwash can fit into this group, as the purpose it serves is purely cosmetic, to refreshen the mouth and get a fresh breath. This is when you use it without getting a dental benefit.

However, if you are using a mouthwash to combat bad breath (halitosis), the mouthwash could simply mask a more serious underlying problem. Consult your dentist or dental hygienist to ensure that there are no other health issues affecting your oral hygiene.


POINTS TO NOTE

Remember, mouthwash cannot replace brushing twice a day and regular flossing or using interdental brush. 
If you brush and floss in a correct way, you already help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
The mouthwash should offer an additional benefit to your daily routine in helping prevent tooth decay and gum disease.