When to use a Mouth Rinse

While mouth rinses should not be considered substitutes for regular toothbrushing and flossing, they can be useful for a number of different purposes depending on their ingredients.

Mouth rinses are unable to penetrate existing plaque, making them ineffective below the gums. A mouth rinse is also unable to reach between the teeth.

A dental professional may recommend a specific mouth rinse for a specific oral problem. Dental professionals may also recommend rinses for those who cannot brush due to physical or medical conditions.

Many mouth rinses contain high concentrations of alcohol. Individuals suffering from “dry-mouth”, pregnant women and children should not use mouth rinses containing alcohol

Types of mouth rinses:

Mouth rinses are usually classified as either cosmetic or therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouth rinses: These are commercial over-the-counter products that help remove oral debris before or after brushing, temporarily suppress bad breath, diminish bacteria in the mouth and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. At the very least they are effective oral antiseptics that freshen the mouth and alleviate bad breath in the short term.

Therapeutic mouth rinses: These have the same benefits as cosmetic mouth rinses but they also contain an added active ingredient that helps protect against some oral diseases.

Common mouth rinses

These include saltwater, chlorhexidine, essential oils, fluoride and antibacterial rinses.

Saltwater: Mild, warm saltwater rinses may benefit patients who have ulcers, minor throat irritation, and denture sores or braces irritations by alleviating discomfort and aiding healing. Consult a dental professional if the area continues to be irritated or sore for longer than a week.

Chlorhexidine: This is very effective in reducing bacteria found in the oral cavity. Long-term use of chlorhexidine rinses may alter perception of taste, cause brown staining on teeth and increase in the formation of calculus (tartar or scale). The use of chlorhexidine should be recommended by your dental professional and used according to their recommendations.

Essential oils: These are proven to be effective in reducing bad breath.

Fluoride: These are recommended by dental professionals to control and prevent tooth decay. Use of a fluoride mouth rinse along with a fluoride toothpaste, can provide extra protection against tooth decay. However, the use of fluoride mouth rinse is not recommended for children.

Antibacterial: These reduce the bacteria in the mouth and alter the bacterial activity in the plaque. They are particularly helpful in controlling gingivitis and minor throat infections.

Using a mouth rinse

  • Brush and floss the teeth before using a mouth rinse
  • Measure the recommended amount of the rinse
  • Rinse or swish the liquid around your mouth for the time recommended on the packaging
  • Spit liquid out of the mouth

To maximise the effects of the mouth rinse, do not rinse, eat, or smoke for thirty minutes after using it.

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