Commercials make it look like a swish is all you need to keep your smile healthy and attractive! You might even think that a rinse is an acceptable substitute for brushing.
In reality, even that simple little bottle of mouthwash should be used with caution.
You should know what’s in a bottle of mouth rinse before you use it. Otherwise, it could be completely pointless. Here are some of the most common active ingredients in mouthwash:
Essential oils – these include menthol and eucalyptol. Essential oils are very effective against plaque bacteria.
Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) – much like essential oils, this antibacterial agent helps keep down the populations of bacteria that cause gum infection. On the downside, it can leave some odd brown stains on the teeth after a lot of use.
Fluoride – needed for strengthening tooth enamel against cavities, fluoride is often found in higher concentrations in rinses for kids. The sweet taste is usually irresistible, so make sure you are monitoring your kids’ use of mouthwash. Check that they don’t swallow it. Please note, not all mouth rinses contain fluoride – read your labels carefully.
Alcohol – that burn you may feel in some rinses usually comes from the alcohol content. Don’t let it fool you, however. While alcohol does help kill some germs, it’s not effective like essential oils or CPC. It’s just in the mouthwash to help dissolve the active ingredients. If you suffer from dry mouth, avoid rinses containing alcohol as these will only make your condition worse. Watch out for rinses that contain little more than alcohol, coloring, and a sweetener; these might taste effective, but they won’t do much for you.
Ask your dentist whether you should use a mouthwash.
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