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Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Mouthwash – Dynamite For Your Teeth or Breath Freshener?

Dr. Vincent Wan


Is mouthwash actually dynamite for your teeth?  Does is really destroy all the bacteria in the mouth that causes tooth decay and gum disease?

In short, of course not.  If you think about, how can something you simply rinse with and spit out be so powerful?  It doesn’t make sense.  If it did, anyone using a mouthwash should have healthy teeth and gums.  In reality, many mouthwash users have poor oral health.

However, mouthwash is definitely more than just a breath freshener.  It is true mouthwash does kill bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.  The main issue is that mouthwash just isn’t able to reach all the nooks and crannies in the mouth for it to destroy all bacteria.  It cannot get easily between teeth or under the gumline.

People don’t hold it in the mouth for long enough for it to work even on easy to reach areas.  Most people just rinse for a few seconds and spit it back out.  Some even rinse with water after the mouthwash.  Mouthwash needs to be rinsed vigourously around the mouth for at least 1 minute to give it time to destroy bacteria.  Rinsing with water simply dilutes its effectiveness straight away.

You also have to brush and floss effectively before using mouthwash.  Plaque and food debris on the teeth and gums make it difficult for the mouthwash to work.  Think of it as the mouthwash disinfecting the already clean teeth surfaces.

So should you use a mouthwash?  If you brush twice daily, floss once a day and see the dentist every 6 months, you may not need to use one.  You are already doing enough to remove bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease.  However, if you struggle with dental problems, then brushing, flossing and rinsing with a mouthwash twice a day may help the teeth and gums become healthier.  Ask your dentist whether a mouthwash may be beneficial for your mouth.