Is Mouthwash Necessary?


Is mouthwash necessary, or is it simply an additional proactive measure for those who are extra careful about their teeth?

While the most important ways to take care of your teeth are simply by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and seeing your dentist at least twice a year, mouthwash can be a helpful bonus to these habits. The American Dental Association (ADA) describes using mouthwash as a "helpful addition" to these more imperative habits - though it is not considered a replacement for them.

Mouthwash is also not considered an essential part of the daily oral health routine, though its ingredients are common parts of dental visits and other oral health solutions. The rinse is specifically formulated to promote teeth health and prevent bad breath, so even without the “essential” stamp, it may not be a bad idea for those looking to take their teeth to the next level.

Mouthwash does have certain benefits to offer, and there's a reason it's such a commonly used product in the oral health market. Read on to learn more about the benefits of mouthwash, and how it can help your oral health.


How Does Mouthwash Work?

Ingredients in mouthwash can vary significantly, though most have a number of shared ingredients, all built to help our mouths maintain a high standard of health. Mouthwashes utilize antiseptic and otherwise helpful ingredients like menthol, alcohol, eucalyptol, and fluoride.

Fluoride mouthwashes work much the same as the fluoride in your toothpaste - it helps strengthen the enamel of your teeth, so regular use of fluoride rinses are going to help your smile in the long run. This is also why fluoridated water is so common within the US, a direct cause of improved oral health outcomes over the last several decades.

Understanding when to use mouthwash isn’t difficult - you largely want to use it after brushing your teeth or in bouts of bad breath. Ultimately, it can be used as needed within the limits of a person’s day. Mouthwash users should rinse their mouths with the fluid for about 30 seconds, before spitting it out into the sink. Users should also avoid swallowing the solution, as the chemicals in it are not designed for consumption and can be toxic.




What Does Mouthwash Do?

Many people primarily use mouthwash to treat bad breath. While it's important to remember that routine brushing and flossing will be the best at battling bad breath, using mouthwash for bad breath can also help temporarily. When used regularly, the oral rinse helps to remove physical debris from hard-to-clean parts of the mouth, while also killing unwanted bacteria on a microscopic level.

Along with rinsing out a person’s mouth, mouthwash also leaves a lasting coating on the teeth. This coating absorbs into the enamel to help promote teeth durability and plaque-resistance, as well as a lasting good breath effect.

The cause of this effect in mouthwash is largely in preventing tooth decay. Studies have shown mouthwash, whether fluoridated or not, to prevent plaque, tooth decay, and gingivitis, ultimately by killing bacteria films that collect within the mouth. Since mouthwash can reach into the deep recesses of our mouths, including places where flossing and brushing can’t reach, it’s considered a highly beneficial addition to normal oral hygiene routines.


How Does Mouthwash Help Your Teeth?

While mouthwash may not be considered necessary among dental experts, it has been shown to be effective at reducing plaque buildup. And those with high levels of fluoride are considered even more effective.

As mentioned before, another major benefit of mouthwash is that it is not limited by areas of the mouth that are not easily accessible. It can access deep parts of the gums and back of the mouth, providing an antiseptic rinse to places that aren’t normally reached without the help of a dentist. In fact, the reason it’s so important to see your dentist for regular cleanings is to make sure they can clean out parts of the mouth that you don’t normally reach on a day-to-day basis. Mouthwash, if regularly used, can also aid in cleaning these deep parts of the mouth too.


Is Mouthwash Necessary?

Despite the fact that mouthwash may not be an integral part of your oral health routine, it is a helpful tool for anyone trying to protect their teeth. Its restorative offerings can help prevent tooth decay and strengthen enamel, leaving your teeth whiter, cleaner, and smelling better than before.

So, is mouthwash necessary and should you use mouthwash? Dentists say that, as long as you brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, and routinely have your teeth cleaned by professionals, whether you use mouthwash or not is up to you - though the benefits of mouthwash are clear and speak for themselves, and they’ll only serve to make your smile feel and look better.

Kelle Dennis, D.D.S
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