Call us Sydney 9525 7725

Dr Glen Baker BDS (Hons)
Dr Danneil Wood BDS (Hons)

What about mouth rinse?

Mouth rinses are a helpful aid in maintaining oral health.

They provide chemical protection to the mouth by delivering fluoride or providing a chemical disinfectant effect. Unfortunately they are not as effective as brushing and flossing which physically remove plaque, but mouthwash is great for making your mouth feel fresh and medicated.

Mouthrinses that contain fluoride help prevent decay in susceptible patients. We know fluoride has a strengthening effect on teeth and once it was widely available in tap water the incidence of decay dropped markedly. Fluoride is also available in toothpaste, but a fluoride mouthrinse can provide that extra protection as the concentration can be higher. There are some new products that also rebuild the chemicals in the tooth mineral. They are derived from milk proteins and supply calcium and phosphate to the tooth. They are marketed under the name 'Tooth Mousse' or 'Recaldent'. They are less like mouthwash and more like a toothpaste but are used after brushing like a mouthwash.

Antiseptic mouthrinses treat gingivitis and bad breath by targeting the bacteria. There are a few different types. The most effective mouthwashes for treating gingivitis have Chlorhexidine Gluconate (Savacol, Curasept) however the frequent use can cause staining and affect taste, so you should consult the dentist. The other common mouthwashes contain essential oils and ethanol (Listerine) and can also help reduce gingivitis. There was some recent concern about alcohol containing mouthwash increasing the risk of oral cancer, however there seems to be no direct link. The American Dental association (ADA) and the American National Cancer Institute (NCI) have agreed that alcohol containing mouthwash is safe and does not cause oral cancer. It is recommended that people use alcohol containing mouthwash for a specific period and for a therapeutic effect. There are other non alcohol based mouthwashes that can be used long term.

Lastly, mouthwash is not recommended for children under 6 years old, who have a limited ability to spit out after rinsing.