There are two kinds of people in the world: ones that are loyal advocates of mouthwash and can’t start their day without a good rinse of Listerine, and the others that vehemently oppose and speculate the need for a mouthwash at all. It’s easy to convince yourself into any one of these parties but before you choose a side, it’s important to know the complete picture.
The question ‘is mouthwash really necessary?’ has been prodded upon frequently in every dentist’s clinic and on Google searches. If you’ve been one of those people who have asked this question, you’ve probably never found a satisfying answer yourself.
The short answer is: yes and no. Mouthwash can be essential for your oral health and at the same time, it might not be. There are several different factors to consider before you can decide if you really need a good mouthwash for optimum dental care.
What Does Mouthwash Do?
Mouthwashes are branded as products that will not only leave you with a fresh breath but also fight off cavities, reduce the incidence of gum disease and boost your overall dental health. That’s true for the most part and the ingredients used in most good mouthwashes are clinically proven to deliver these effects.
Alcohol-based mouthwashes are effective against bacteria and can kill harmful microorganisms in your oral cavity; organisms that cause bad breath (halitosis), cavities, plaques and infections. On the other hand, a cosmetic mouthwash that contains hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient might help to whiten your teeth in the long run.
People who use mouthwash regularly do so because it makes their mouth feel fresher and healthier, so if a mouthwash physically makes you feel more hygienic there’s no reason to doubt that it doesn’t play a role in good oral hygiene.
When Does Mouthwash Not Become Necessary?
There are always two sides to the story. If you aren’t someone that uses a mouthwash on a daily basis and still has good oral hygiene then you might not need a mouthwash after all. If that’s the case then your prime emphasis is on brushing and flossing which are clinically much more essential for good dental hygiene than the best mouthwash in the market. If you’re doing these two things right you might never need to add a mouthwash to your dental regimen after all.
Brushing with good quality toothpaste (some people believe you might not need toothpaste at all!), and in the correct motion will effectively get rid of the bacteria and debris; things that a mouthwash promises to do. Brushing the right way will also leave your breath smelling fresh because most of the bacteria that cause halitosis reside in the back of the tongue. Brushing this particular area will undoubtedly leave yours with fresh breath.
Flossing is equally important and although many people tend to skip this part, it is an actual necessity for good oral hygiene – no questions asked. Flossing removes food particles, plaque debris and other substances from the tight spaces between your teeth. This is important to reduce the likelihood of cavities and gum infections.
If you’re not brushing and flossing right, you might need to add a mouthwash to your oral care routine for an extra boost of protection. If, however, you’re brushing and flossing adequately, adding a mouthwash will only boost your oral hygiene but not act as a necessity.
Dr Anthony Komaroff, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School says “Mouthwash actually plays a fairly minor role in the prevention of plaque and gum disease. Brushing and flossing are much more important.”
What About the Specific Types of Mouthwash?
Special types of mouthwashes like fluoride and other therapeutic mouthwash serve a particular purpose for oral health and can be regarded as essential, at least to some extent.
For example, if your dentist has prescribed a fluoride mouthwash for you it’s probably to add an extra boost of protection for your teeth. Fluoride is a mineral that makes the enamel on your teeth stronger, reduces the chances of getting a cavity and overall improves your dental health. These mouthwashes can be necessary especially if you suffer from recurrent cavities and a history of weak enamel.
Your dentist might also prescribe you a mouthwash after you’ve had a dental extraction or during pregnancy to keep infections at bay. In those events, a mouthwash can become a necessity.
Other mouthwashes such as chlorhexidine mouthwashes might not be considered essential because they act mainly to stop bad breath, and leave your mouth feeling fresh.
Saltwater mouthwash that is an isotonic solution is a therapeutic DIY mouthwash that can help alleviate a mouth sore or a sore throat. Pain relief is an important element in these types of mouthwash and they can be beneficial, if not essential, if you have a sore in your mouth.
Cosmetic mouthwash, on the other hand, is only used because of personal preference. These mouthwashes contain anti-oxidants like peroxide that can play a role in whitening your teeth. Once again, a cosmetic mouthwash cannot be deemed essential or necessary for good dental hygiene.
Should You Add a Mouthwash to Your Regimen?
The final question is: should you invest in mouthwash to make your oral health better?
At the end of the day, it really depends on your personal preference. If you feel like you need to rinse your mouth with Listerine to feel confident about your oral health, then, by all means, do it! Bear in mind, however, that using too much mouthwash can have detrimental effects and leave your mouth dry and painful. It’s recommended not to use a mouthwash more than three times a day.
If you’re not using a mouthwash then you should place more attention to your brushing and flossing routine. Brushing and flossing are absolutely essential and there are no two sides of it. If, however, you believe your brushing and flossing is deficient in some way, then adding a good quality mouthwash can do wonders for you!