When it comes to mouthwashes, most of us know little about them than the fact that they come in a wide range of colors. And the truth is, it’s as hard to choose the right mouthwash as it is to tell the difference between all those colorful, branded and no-name bottles you find in your supermarket’s toiletry aisle.
And then, there are people among us who think all mouthwashes are the same and so, they tend to pick any one bottle from the shelf. This is one of the many myths related to mouth rinses that people largely believe in. In truth, mouthwashes come with a wide range of different purposes and with different ingredients and to choose the right one certainly requires a bit of knowledge about them.
Do you even need a mouthwash?
It’s one big question that’s not as easy to answer as you might first think. Most people believe that mouthwashes are harmless and that these can replace their brushing and flossing. However, that’s untrue.
Firstly, it’s proven that antibacterial mouthwashes help reduce bacteria in the mouth and fight plaque. However, it only works when you use alongside regular brushing and flossing. You may want to consider getting a mouthwash for general use.
Secondly, mouthwash may help in freshening your breath and curing the condition of bad breath. However, it’s just a temporary fix and unless the cause of the bad breath is treated, you won’t make progress on tackling the bigger issue of bad breath.
Is it safe to use a mouthwash?
Another myth related to mouthwashes is that they are harmless. You might be surprised to know that some ingredients in a mouthwash are known to cause health problems.
Alcohol based mouth rinses can lead to decreased production of saliva in the mouth, giving you dry mouth, which is a major cause of cavities, bad breath and other problems. Not only that but some limited studies have also shown the link between alcohol-based mouthwash and oral cancer.
Although there are alcohol free mouthwashes available, those have other ingredients that are known to cause problems too. Some ingredients can stain your teeth while others can cause a burning sensation. Rinses with essential oils may have an uncomfortably sharp taste while another ingredient, chlorhexidine, can alter your sense of taste.
What ingredients to look for
The ingredients you should look for depends on your particular purpose. Here are some common reasons people use mouthwash and what ingredient you should look for to help with each.
– General use: If you’re looking for a mouthwash to include in your oral hygiene routine for reducing bacteria and fighting plaque in your mouth, look for a fluoride based one. Fluoride is a very beneficial ingredient that strengthens and repairs your tooth enamel. Fluoride based mouthwashes are mostly safe for everyone.
– Fighting gum disease and gingivitis: If you need a mouthwash that helps reduce the bacteria that infects your gums and cause gingivitis, look for a mouthwash that contains essential oils, which are known to soothe the gums and kill the nasty bacteria that infects them.
– Cavity protection: If you’re concerned about cavities, get a mouthwash that contains fluoride. When the tooth enamel is weakened, your teeth are more likely to get cavities. By strengthening the enamel, fluoride gives you cavity protection.
– Fresh breath: If you think your breath stinks and need a mouthwash that can freshen your breath instantly, look for one that contains antibacterial agents like alcohol. Alcohol kills the bacteria that causes bad breath and at least temporarily cures the condition. If, however, you’re sensitive to alcohol or are worried about the side effects of alcohol based mouthwashes, look for an alcohol-free alternative. These contain salt as an alternative to alcohol. Remember, however: these only mask the bad breath instead of curing it.
– Teeth whitening: If you want to remove ugly stains and brighten your teeth, look for a mouthwash that contains abrasive ingredients like baking soda.
With this in mind, you will know what to look for when picking a mouthwash. If you’re still unsure, ask your dentist to recommend the best mouthwash to suit your needs.