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.