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Dear Dr. McPherson,

Every time I go to the drug store to buy toothpaste I am bombarded with options for mouthwash. I’ve never really used mouthwash as a regular part of my dental routine. Should I start? If so, how do I know which mouthwash is best?

This is a great question! Unless otherwise specified by your dentist, mouthwash is not a necessary component of a regular dental hygiene routine. Yet, many people still opt to use mouthwash on occasion – especially following an odorous Italian meal full of garlic and onions! Mouthwash can definitely help freshen breath, and it is also a great way to flush out bacteria inside the mouth to prevent cavities and decay. However, it is essential to look at the ingredients in the mouthwash options available. Basically, what you want to look at is the alcohol content. While you may have a preference for the flavor, mouthwash can be categorized as Alcohol-based or Alcohol-free.

Most dentists will recommend that patients chose an alcohol-free mouthwash option. Alcohol is a very powerful substance, and it can threaten your oral health. What many people fail to remember is that the entire mouth is made up of living tissues. The gums, cheeks, tongue, and teeth are all living tissues that can be negatively affected by harmful ingredients.

If you have ever challenged yourself to rinse your mouth with an alcohol-based mouthwash for a full 60 seconds, you have experienced the intense burning sensation. This burning sensation may make you feel that you’ve cleaned your mouth, but it should also make you wonder why it burns so badly. The answer is that alcohol-based mouthwash contains potent chemicals. Allowing an alcohol-based substance to linger on living tissues can erode their surfaces. It has been shown that alcohol-based mouthwash is such a strong substance that it can contribute to ulcers and damage dental fillings.

It is also vital for children, patients undergoing chemotherapy, and those with diabetes stay away from alcohol-based mouthwash. It is not a safe substance for people in these categories.

If you are looking to incorporate mouthwash into your dental care routine or you want to use it occasionally, contact Peninsula Dentistry today for recommendations.

Posted on behalf of Peninsula Cosmetic & Family Dentistry

538 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

Phone: (843) 507-5481
FAX: (843) 577-4653

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Dr. James B. Wisner

Dr. James B. Wisner was raised in Charleston and attended Porter-Gaud High School. He graduated from The Honors College at The University of South Carolina in 1996 and received his D.M.D. degree in 2002 from the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Dental Medicine. Dr. Wisner served in Las Vegas, Nevada and Spangdahlem, Germany…

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Dr. Caitlin McPherson

Dr. Caitlin McPherson was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. A graduate of Porter Gaud High School, she went on to receive her Bachelors of Science from Clemson University’s Calhoun Honors College. Dr. McPherson earned her Doctorate of Dental Medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Dental Medicine. She is an…

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Dr. Luke E. Severance

Dr. Luke E. Severance

Dr. Luke E. Severance believes dentistry goes far beyond just treating teeth – it’s about building lasting relationships and making a genuine difference in the lives of his patients. Dr. Severance was raised in Florence, South Carolina and graduated with summa cum laude from the University of South Carolina. He went on to receive his…

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538 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

Phone: (843) 507-5481
FAX: (843) 577-4653

Opening Hours

Monday - Thursday 8am - 5pm
Lunch break: 1pm - 2pm

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