Does Mouthwash Do More Than Freshen Breath?

By: Dr. Rebecca Koenigsberg

Despite the popularity of mouthwash, there is much controversy over it’s effectiveness. But does mouthwash do more than freshen breath?

Dental Mouthwash Is A Useful Weapon In The Dental Arsenal

Besides freshening your breath, dental mouthwash is a useful weapon in your dental health arsenal. There are many kinds of rinses available such as:

  • – bacteria-fighting rinses that can help kill some of the bacteria that contributes to bad breath.
  • – fluoride rinses can help prevent tooth decay in cavity prone patients.

Active Ingredients In Dental Mouthwash

Drugstore shelves are filled with endless choices of mouthwashes;read the ingredients before making a decision. Some of the active ingredients to look for are:

-cetylpyridinium chloride



-peroxide for whitening

-Mouthwashes containing Chloreixine is available with a prescription. This ingredient can stain teeth and alter taste perception, but targets the bad bacteria in your mouth and can help reduce bad breath.

-Alcohol-based mouthwash can be harsh for some patients with dry mouth and should not be used for children.

-Mouthwashes that have no therapeutic ingredients are less useful and just temporarily relieve bad breath. They don’t  help long term, because their active ingredients don’t stay active in the mouth long enough to kill bacteria for more than a few minutes.

-Choosing a product with the ADA Seal Of Approval is usually a safe bet.

Natural Mouthwash Option

Rinsing with coconut oil 5-10 minutes a day. is an ancient Indian folk remedy that claims to whiten your teeth, freshen your breath and greatly improve your oral health.

One study from 2016 showed that oil pulling can be explored as a safe and effective alternative to Chlorhexidine.

Streptococcus mutans is a key player in plaque buildup and tooth decay. Pulling with coconut oil for 10 minutes every day significantly reduces the number of S. mutans in saliva in as little as two weeks, as compared to distilled water.

So, Is Mouthwash Worth The Hype?

  • A short 30-second rinse with effective mouthwash can result in a clear reduction in dental issues such as gingivitis.
  • Using mouthwash with fluoride can provide additional protection against cavities and gum disease.
  • Mouthwash can also reduce the amount of dental plaque and bacteria in your mouth when used as a supplement with brushing and flossing.
  • And, of course, mouthwash can make your mouth feel and smell fresher.

But remember, mouthwash will never serve as a replacement for brushing and flossing, you still need to physically remove plaque twice a day with brushing and flossing.

Talk to your dentist at your next regular check up to see which mouthwash would best suit your needs.

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