Does mouthwash improve oral hygiene?

This is one of the most common questions I get every day. Commercials and advertisements tend to confuse everyone, so sometimes we end up paying for something that will damage our health, rather than benefit it.

Yes, no, maybe

The answer is yes and no. There are mouthwashes that are good for your oral health and products that can potentially do harm. Before you load up on the latest and greatest mouthwash on the market, consider the great mouthwash debate. And then you can decide.

Don’t mess with the oral microbione

Some chemical rinses even have a negative effect: They are harmful to the mouth and the gums because they disturb and disrupt the oral flora!

The mouth’s microbiome includes both good and bad bacteria. These support the mineralization of your teeth, encourage saliva production and prevent tooth decay.  Mouthwashes that kill 99.9% of the bacteria in your mouth are also killing off good bacteria. This can damage the mouth’s microbiome and its ability to fight cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.

If you want a mouthwash that is effective at reducing your risk of cavities and gum inflammation, you may want to look at a “therapeutic mouthwashes” to complement your dental hygiene routine. These mouthwashes contain an active ingredient like cetylpyridinium chloride or menthol,

Some of the mouthwash that contains cetylpyridinium chloride include:

  • Dentyl mouthwash
  • Crest pro-health multi-protection mouthwash
  • Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Mouthwash

Is alcohol mouthwash (AM) good for my mouth?

AM actually makes bad breath worse! This is because it dries your mouth, which may actually provide a cozier environment for the bacteria that foul your breath, Using AM will mask bad odour but will not get rid of all the bacteria producing it.

Alcohol wipes out bad (and good) bacteria, but it dries your mouth out in the process. That dryness can cause irritation in your oral tissues and exacerbate the very problems you were trying to treat. 

AM does increase the risk of oral cancer when it occurs concomitantly with other risk factors such as smoking or alcohol

What about Clorhexidine mouthwash (CHX)?

(CHX) most commonly known as Corsodyl is associated with a major shift in the salivary microbiome, leading to more acidic conditions and increased blood pressure in healthy individuals.

Important tip: Rinsing with CHX for 4 weeks or longer causes tooth staining, build-up of calculus (tartar), temporary taste disturbance and potential damage to the lining of the mouth.

What about mouthwash for kids?

kids younger than the age of six should not be swirling and swishing anything stronger than water.

If you are looking for chemical-free mouthwash, I strongly recommend to pull oil instead or simply use salty water rinses.

What oil to use?

Virgin coconut, walnut, almond and olive oil.

Coconut oil has the added benefit of being antibacterial and antiviral.

How to do oil pulling? Check this previous post that is 100% dedicated to this topic!

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